Americans have confirmed for the BMW PGA Championship and the end of season events are taking shape nicely...
European Tour Fighting Strong Amid PGA Tour Domination
For the first time in its recent history, the BMW PGA Championship has attracted some PGA Tour-playing Americans with Patrick Reed, Tony Finau and Billy Horschel all confirmed for the event in its new date in September.
Granted, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and co. don’t look likely to tee it up at Wentworth but US stars committing to the event is something we all hoped would happen after the big 2019 schedule changes.
One man who will be happy with the news is nine-time Major winner Gary Player, who last year voiced his concerns over the lack of US stars in attendance.
“Unfortunately, I can only count 6 players from the USA playing at Wentworth in the BMWPGA on the European Tour “flagship” event. What a shame for our global game. You can never be a world champion if you stay at home. GP”, Player tweeted.
This year’s tournament looks set to be one of the biggest in recent memory with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood all confirmed, and there could well be more big names teeing it up too.
The new schedule this year has had mixed reviews but has ultimately seen the world’s best play almost exclusively on the PGA Tour from March to August with huge tournaments each month:
March – Players Championship
April – Masters
May – USPGA Championship
June – US Open
July – The Open
August – FedEx Cup Playoffs
This was all implemented to get the PGA Tour season done-and-dusted by the start of the NFL season and it looked as if the European Tour would have to feed off the scraps that the PGA Tour left – ie the Jan-Feb and Sept-Dec months.
There was more bad news for the European Tour when Rory McIlroy hinted that he wouldn’t be re-joining the Tour this season with his focus on America where he and his wife live.
However, Rory U-turned on that decision and has so far played in the Scottish Open with confirmed appearances at the Omega European Masters and BMW PGA.
He’ll need one more ‘regular’ event to play to fulfil his critera and may even opt for more.
There’s a chance he’ll play the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship a week after Wentworth, a tournament he has supported in the past, and may also choose to tee it up in one or more of the Finals Series events where the first-place cheques have been hugely bumped up this year.
Rory will be joined by Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood and Danny Willett at Crans-sur-Sierre and looking ahead to the coming European Tour events, the fields are taking shape very nicely.
Wentworth is, as mentioned already, stacked but plenty of other tournaments have star power too.
We pick out the remaining tournaments pre-Finals Series featuring big names –
Aug 29th-Sept 1st – Omega European Masters, Switzerland – Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Danny Willett
Sept 5th-8th – Porsche European Open, Germany – Xander Schauffele, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, Paul Casey
Sept 12th-15th – KLM Open, Holland – Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Matt Wallace, Lee Westwood, Thomas Pieters, Joost Luiten
Sept 19th-22nd – BMW PGA Championship, Wentworth – Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, Billy Horschel
Sept 26th-29th – Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Scotland – Some big names likely TBC (Last year featured Koepka, Fleetwood, Hatton)
Oct 3rd-6th – Spanish Open – Jon Rahm
Oct 10th-13th – Italian Open – Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari, Thorbjorn Olesen
It was always thought that the European Tour would thrive after the FedEx Cup Playoffs but there are some huge events on the PGA Tour during that time too, with massive purses on offer at the CJ Cup in Korea and Zozo Championship in Japan in October before the WGC-HSBC Champions.
The Zozo has a purse of $9.75m and will feature Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy and the CJ Cup’s purse is $9.5m, dwarfing the $7m on offer at a Rolex Series tournament.
Another obstacle for the European Tour is the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Championship which takes place the same week as the BMW PGA.
The Sanderson Farms’ purse has been increased to $6.6m this year so that may well have put some Americans off of travelling across the pond.
Either way, the European Tour look to have compiled a very decent end to the season amid the financial juggernaut that is the PGA Tour.
It has been a quiet spell in Europe as expected but it got off to a flyer with big events in Abu Dhabi, now part of the Rolex Series, and at the Dubai Desert Classic which was won by Bryson DeChambeau.
That came before the Saudi International which had a very stacked field itself, featuring the world’s numbers one, two and three – although the tournament did draw criticisms and a certain Sergio Garcia made headlines for the wrong reasons.
Next year for the European Tour looks a challenge once again with the PGA Tour purses seemingly going up-and-up, and it has a big decision on its hands regarding the Irish Open which has been joined in its first-week-of-July slot by the WGC-FedEx St Jude Classic, a move made due to the Olympics.
It remains to be seen whether the Irish Open moves date or the European Tour just chooses not to sanction the WGC as it did in 2016 when the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational clashed with the French Open.
The European Tour has had it tough in recent times and it won’t be getting any easier, but remember that its our home Tour and we, along with our best golfers, should be supporting it.
It’s great to see that many big names are doing just that this autumn.
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