European Tour: Changes to the Race to Dubai ahead of the new season
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 23/11/18 7:35am
The new European Tour campaign gets underway this week at the Hong Kong Open, with plenty of new things to look forward to in the 2019 season.
Less than 100 hours after Danny Willett returned to the winners' circle at the DP World Tour Championship and Francesco Molinari confirmed his status as European No 1, the players return to action at Fanling for the start of another bumper year.
The European Tour has 48 tournaments in 31 countries over the next 12 months, with lots of changes to the schedule and structure for the new campaign.
We take a look at what's coming up on the European Tour this season…
New points system
The Players Tournament Committee has approved a new points system, which will see tournaments classified into one of nine "bands" based on the prize fund and prestige of the event.
Points range from the 2,000 available to the winner in the lowest band of tournaments to the 10,000 points available for a major, with standardised percentages for each position in all types of events.
Based on the new format, finishing 50th will earn you 0.48 per cent of the points available at an event, which reduces the disparity between the bigger and smaller events that happened in the previous money-based rankings.
The aim of the changes is to create a more performance-based system and gives those ineligible for the bigger prize-money events a better chance to keep their card.
Re-styled Rolex Series
Seven of the eight events from the 2018 schedule retain their status and minimum prize fund of $7m, with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, held from January 16-19, added to the list for the first time.
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open keep their same slots in the schedule ahead of The Open, although the BMW PGA Championship switches from May to September and the Italian Open from June to October.
The final three events of the year remain the same, with the 2019 campaign finishing with the Turkish Airlines Open, Nedbank Golf Challenge and the DP World Tour Championship.
Male and female professionals will play together at the Vic Open in Australia, which makes its debut on the European Tour in February, as well as at the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco.
GolfSixes switches to Portugal this time around, with the innovative event also set to include female players after last year's successful trial at the Centurion Club.
The Belgian Knockout, containing a 36-hole strokeplay event before switching to matchplay over the weekend, features in May, while the Shot Clock Challenge is set to return in August.
The Open de France losing its Rolex Series status sees the event switch to October, with the Open de Espana moving to the same month having originally being held in April.
Tommy Fleetwood will host the British Masters at Hillside in May - the week before the PGA Championship - with the Made In Denmark taking the spot in the calendar previously saved for Wentworth from May 23-26.
Other changes see the Andalucia Valderrama Masters moved to June and the Porsche European Open going from July to September, while the Maybank Championship has been pushed back a month from February to Match.
Saudi Arabia will host a European Tour event for the first time in 2019 when the Saudi International is played from Jan 31-Feb 3, as part of a three-week stretch of tournaments in the Middle East.
The Kenya Open has been promoted from a Challenge Tour event having featured on the second-tier since 1991, with the tournament held the same week as The Players Championship on the PGA Tour.
The Nordea Masters has been rebranded as the Scandinavian International for the new season, while an-as-yet unnamed event has been pencilled in for August 1-4.
Watch the European Tour throughout the season live on Sky Sports Golf