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Garcia and Schwartzel back Final Series changes

By Tony Jimenez

LONDON (Reuters) - Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel, two critics of the inaugural Final Series last year, have backed changes made to the U.S. FedExCup-style event that brings the curtain down on the European Tour season.

The bonus pool for the four-tournament Final Series has soared from $3.75 million to $5 million, to be shared by the leading 15 players on the money-list competing at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

The tour has also decided that members will no longer have to participate in two of the first three tournaments in order to qualify for the Dubai showpiece.

"I'm very happy to see we have reached a middle ground which should help make us all happy," Spaniard Garcia said in a news release on Monday.

South African Schwartzel said: "I will always try to support the European Tour when I can and it's great to see that they are also trying to look after us with these new rules."

Former world number two Garcia, 2011 U.S. Masters champion Schwartzel and four-times major winner Ernie Els complained last year that the regulations were unfair.

The biggest bone of contention for the players was the tour's demand that they must compete in two of the first three Final Series events - the BMW Masters and the WGC-HSBC Champions that are both held in Shanghai and the Turkish Open - to qualify for Dubai.

"It looks like the Final Series is moving in the right direction, to help the guys come and play in as many of the four events as possible," said Schwartzel.

"By increasing the bonus pool and making it for the top 15, they are all great incentives for us to play."

FINE TUNING

Last year only the top 10 in the money-list were eligible for the bonus pool.

"The inaugural staging of the Final Series was a huge success," said the tour's chief operating officer Keith Waters.

"However, the European Tour always listens to its membership and we were aware there was some fine tuning required to the overall structure."

Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, chairman of the players' Tournament Committee, also welcomed the changes.

"The new regulations and the new points system are a good move," said the 15-times tour winner.

"It means if you miss some of those events it will be difficult to win the Race to Dubai (money-list) so there is an incentive to play in as many Final Series events as possible.

"The goal for us was to get the top players to play in the Final Series and this will hopefully help do that," added Bjorn.

(Writing by Tony Jimenez; editing by Justin Palmer/Alan Baldwin)

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