The potent combination of world-class performances – led by Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson and Lee Westwood – and the lure of the inaugural Race to Dubai sees The European Tour’s current Membership ring in the New Year as the dominant force in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Of the 50 leading players in the game, based on the Official Ranking, a record 39 are now plying their trade on The European Tour with eight of the top ten all in Membership.
These impressive numbers are swollen by several new Full and Affiliate Members, namely Robert Allenby, Stephen Ames, Stuart Appleby, Aaron Baddeley, Tim Clark, Ben Curtis, Anthony Kim, Geoff Ogilvy, Rory Sabbatini, Camilo Villegas and Mike Weir – with the prospect of further additions early in the New Year as The 2009 Race to Dubai gets into full swing.
However, the 2008 season also saw some momentous leaps on the Official World Golf Ranking from the Tour’s established Members.
Of those players who plied their trade on a number of platforms around the globe, the performances of double Major champion, Padraig Harrington, and Harry Vardon Trophy winner, Robert Karlsson, plus the ascent to world number two by Sergio Garcia, were the highlights of a tremendous year which saw Vijay Singh, Henrik Stenson and Ernie Els consolidate their top ten spots.
The decision of Villegas, Kim and Ogilvy to join The European Tour adds spice and a touch of glamour to The Race to Dubai, with Colombian Villegas now seventh in the world with American Kim and Australian Ogilvy in 11th and 12th respectively.
Villegas cannot wait to enter the fray as The Race to Dubai hots up, and he said, “I’m very excited to be joining The European Tour. I’ve always wanted to play world tours, but just had to put myself in a good position in the World Ranking so I can try to work both schedules as best I can.
“It just happens that my first year joining The European Tour coincides with the first year of The Race to Dubai. Obviously it’s going to catch a lot of guys’ attention, but I wanted to get myself in a good World Ranking position, like I said, to be able to set both schedules and play both Tours.
“It would be nice to see more guys from the US come and play, since golf is a worldwide sport. It’s growing big-time all over the world, and we have to support that. I always wanted to play around the world, so that’s why I made the decision.”
Kim, the youngster of Korean heritage who dazzled on his Ryder Cup debut for the United States at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky in September, is another player tingling with anticipation at the prospect of The Race to Dubai.
He said: “I am very excited about The Race to Dubai. I got to play my first co-sanctioned event with The European Tour and the Asian Tour at the Ballantine’s Championship and I felt like I could make a name for myself worldwide, not just the United States. “
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