Exemption categories for The 2009 European Tour have been changed and will come into effect when the inaugural Race to Dubai starts this week.

The Tournament Committee decided to address the impact that the growing size of several winners’ categories were having on other exemption categories.  

However, the length of any exemptions already earned will not be changed.

In Category 1, Major winners have seen their exemptions cut from ten years to seven years.

Category 2 events such as the BMW PGA Championship, now joined by The Dubai World Championship, will carry five-year exemptions.

Meanwhile, a shuffle in Category 2b sees The European Open, the Open de France Alstom and The Barclays Scottish Open, join the World Golf Championship events in the three-year exemption pool.

And Category 3 will carry a two-year exemption for the winner of events featuring a prize fund of €1.5 million and above; while Category 3b events with prize funds below €1.5 million – will see their winner’s exemption drop from two years to one.

Ryder Cup players will also now sit above the top 115 from the previous year’s Order of Merit.

The Race to Dubai gets underway this week at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai where seven of the world’s top eight golfers are teeing up, including World No. 2 Phil Mickelson and three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington.