European Tour set to resume in July with six UK tournaments – including a return of the English Open and several brand new events.
With the PGA Tour due to resume shortly, at the Charles Schwab Challenge on 11 June, European Tour golfers and fans have been wondering when professional golf may recommence in Europe.
More than 30 European Tour events have either been postponed or cancelled due to Coronavirus so far.
European Tour CEO Keith Pelley has announced that the Tour will return on 22 July, with a series of six British events, starting with the British Masters at Close House.
European Tour UK Swing schedule:
British Masters @ Close House – 22-25 July
English Open @ Forest of Arden – 30 July - 2 August
English Championship @ Hanbury Manor – 6-9 August
Celtic Classic @ Celtic Manor – 13-16 August
Wales Open @ Celtic Manor – 20-23 August
UK Championship @ The Belfry – 27-30 August
The venues have been selected as they include large on-site hotels that can safely host players.
The European Tour hopes that an extended stay in the UK will limit potential Covid-19 exposure for players as no air travel will be required, while making a two-week quarantine period more worthwhile for players travelling from overseas.
It will be music to the ears of players like Tommy Fleetwood, one of 24 PGA Tour players currently outside America, who may see it as a way to return to action without having to worry about getting to the USA.
"On the one hand, you want to get back to playing tournament golf as soon as you can, but to do that I'd have two weeks of quarantine before the event and now two more weeks when I got back," he says, dismissing the idea of flying to the USA for a tournament while travel restrictions are so tight. "That's a lot of time, so it's very unlikely I'll be there for Colonial [host of the PGA Tour's first tournament post-lockdown]."
"I'm not going to travel to America and stay away for four months, that is simply not a consideration," adds Fleetwood, who lives in Cheshire with his wife and three children.
"One ideal scenario is we all spend the summer as a family in America but we'll have to talk it through and see if the boys want to be away after such a strange year," he says.
Lee Westwood has a similar view.
"I'm entered for the Colonial and the RBC Heritage as well as there's top-50 in the world exemptions for those two events, but right now I won't be playing them," Westwood told the Golf Channel.
"Not with having to leave here two weeks before, quarantine, then play the two tournaments, then come back and quarantine again. It's six weeks for two tournaments and, to me, it's just not worth it.
"It's not worth taking the risk if everybody thinks that those kind of precautions have got to be in place. I don't feel like golf's a priority, it's that severe."
Westwood is due to host the British Masters at Close House.
"All being well, it'll be the first one back," he says. "I don't think there's anything really planned before that. We've got our fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong, there's no second waves, quarantines get lifted and we can have a successful tournament."
European Tour players currently outside the UK will be given plenty of notice to fly over and quarantine before competing in the series of UK tournaments, each of which is expected to have a €1m prize fund.
Pelley also announced the European Tour's new 'Golf for Good' campaign, with three key aims:
– Supporting the Communities where the European Tour plays.
– Rewarding the true heroes, such as the front line workers.
– Promoting the many health benefits that golf offers.
The ‘Golf for Good’ initiative will be launched at the new ‘UK Swing’ in July and August and culminate in £500,000 from the European Tour being distributed equally between charities local to the tournament venues and charities chosen by the leading ten players in a mini Order of Merit which will run across the six tournaments.
Details of subsequent tournaments on the European Tour from September through to November will be announced in due course, with a variety of scheduling options currently under consideration as the global situation continues to evolve.
However, rescheduled dates have been announced for four Rolex Series events; the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club which now takes place from October 8-11 and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club which moves to the following week, October 15-18.
There are also new dates for the final two tournaments of the year. The Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player is now scheduled for December 3-6 at Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, with the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, now due to take place from December 10-13 at Jumeirah Golf Estates, where the 2020 Race to Dubai Champion will be crowned.
If PGA Tour and European Tour golf does resume as planned, it increases the likelihood of the Ryder Cup going ahead this year. The qualification process and how many picks each captain has remains to be seen.