1. New and returning tournaments
The European Tour season will resume with back-to-back $500,000 events in Austria, co-sanctioned by the Challenge Tour.
The Austrian Open (July 9-12) and Euram Bank Open (July 15-18) will be followed by a six-week ‘UK Swing’, starting with the British Masters.
Three new events – the English Championship, Celtic Classic and UK Championship – will be played in August, while the English Open and Wales Open are returning after lengthy absences.
2. Smaller prize funds
The British Masters will carry a €1.25 million purse, but the other five UK events will be played for just €1 million in prize money.
The bad news, for fans at least, is that the season will restart behind closed doors, though every event will be shown live on Sky Sports and a selection of players and caddies are expected to be mic’d up.
It is hoped that having a run of events in England and Wales, at venues with a hotel on site, will persuade overseas players to fly to the UK and adhere to the 14-day quarantine period.
3. Stricter regulations
No more than 500 people will attend the first eight events and all players, caddies and officials will be subject to testing before they leave home and upon arrival at the course. Keith Pelley has said that hiring additional staff and testing expenses will cost more than £2 million across its three tours.
4. Bumper schedule planned
Although a date for the Irish Open has not yet been set, Pelley told us the revised schedule, which runs from July until December, has up to 24 tournaments on it, “including Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal”.
The plan is to have full fields of 144 competitors and to play events “in clusters” to limit travel and risks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
5. Revamped Rolex Series
Four Rolex Series events have been rescheduled for later this year, including the Scottish Open and BMW PGA Championship in successive weeks in October.
It means we are guaranteed at least nine UK events, including the Dunhill Links Championship, in the space of just three months.
6. Player privileges extended
The Race to Dubai will now conclude on December 13 at the World Tour Championship in Dubai. It will still carry a bonus pool for the most successful players, but prize funds will be smaller.
No player will lose their European Tour card this year and the number of events required to be played has also been waived. As a result, there will be no Qualifying School or graduation from the Challenge Tour in 2020, though “exceptional performances” will be rewarded on both the European Tour and Challenge Tour.