European Tour & The Race to Dubai

With the release of the PGA Tour schedule for next year and my concern about its effect on Links SZN next year, I took a quick look at the European Tour calendar for the current season and was quite surprised to discover that they have no events (other than WGC) between The Open and the Czech Masters on August 15, a break of three weeks in the middle of the summer.

It looks like there was some plan of doing the Shot Clock event in Austria one of these weeks, but it has fallen off the calendar and I can’t find any articles discussing it. @jwfickett, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Where will I get my early morning fix of Marcus Kinhult over the next few weeks?

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smart move actually let them dominate the fall events and get more of their stars to play

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No doubt September and October are going to be pretty great on the Euro Tour, and hopefully Ireland slots in there next year, too.

I am just looking for the truly obscure events like Fiji, Shot Clock Challenge, and European Team Championships that were in this time period last year but have gone missing.

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The fact is that more and more sponsors only want to be involved in big events.

What this means is that lesser events are no longer as well supported and the tour can’t afford / has no interest to put on additional events at their own cost.

The end of season schedule does look very exciting, but Keith Pelley seems to be putting all his eggs in the Rolex basket (even though this has been largely unsuccessful in increasing field strength).

It does feel ridiculous not to have strong events in peak summer months, but with the top players stateside chasing 15 million, and the second tier saving themselves for tournaments where Ryder Cup points can be gained by the bucket load I guess this is the future of the tour.

Haven’t they been doing this for at least this year and maybe a couple of years? I thought I remember reading a while ago that they basically gave up trying to compete with the PGA Tour and are hoping to group big tournaments early in the season, after the FedEX Cup, and around The Open. The thought process being that maybe some big names will come over and play 2-4 tournaments in one trip when the PGA Tour.

Moving the BMW PGA Championship from May to September was a direct response to the PGA Tour re-doing their schedule to get the Players in March and the PGA Championship in May. It’s smart for the Euro Tour to try to have most of their big events in the months where their stars aren’t playing PGA Tour events.

Losing some of the lower-tier events does hurt the rank-and-file Euro Tour players though.

I’ve been closely following the European Tour for about five years, during which time the tour has undergone many changes. The introduction of the Rolex Series had many unintended consequences, the greatest of which being that it became very difficult for Q School graduates to retain their cards (see chart). European Tour Q School graduates already had an uphill climb, but the Rolex Series made it ridiculous. Of those 30 graduates from 2016, only nine played in ANY Rolex Series event in 2017. And the purses in the Rolex Series were more than twice the largest purse of an event that all the Q School grads could play in; a player could finish solo fourth and lock up his card for next year.

Things have improved greatly since then. I don’t know what in particular caused this, but it seems to be easier for Q School graduates to crack Rolex Series fields. The switch to points has made the purse imbalance less meaningful.

The total number of events is only down two from last year. I don’t know why there’s a gap in the schedule right now, but August has been pretty dead for the European Tour the last few years.

Olympics?

Ding ding ding

Olympics are year away. Euro Tour is off for 3 weeks now. All of the explanations for why they have basically conceded to the US PGA Tour for August make good sense, I just had not realized there was nothing at all on the second biggest tour in the world for these weeks and thought it was strange.

The article I read said that the Irish Open is looking to potentially be the week before the BMW PGA next year. That’s not ideal, but it’s a really good spot. Should be a quality field and I expect Rory will be back too

I would not count on Rory being there on that schedule - he is playing the Olympics, FedEx Cup, plus the Ryder Cup coming up, so not much room for Euro events in September. In addition to representing Ireland in Tokyo, he is also supposed to be playing in the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor July 6-7. That was originally scheduled for the usual Monday after Irish Open, but now it is after WGC Memphis and is supposed to feature about 15 players likely to be in Memphis, so we will see if that holds.

The Irish Open would be 2 weeks after the end of the playoffs. Rory and other top guys might not play, but I guess I’d be disappointed if they didn’t. How much time off do super fit, millionaires playing a game really need?

Are we sure the BMW PGA will be the week before Ryder Cup? And what happens to Rory’s beloved Omega European Masters? When is Dunhill Links?

Also, if all of the good European Tour events move to the Fall, will Rory and others have problems maintaining their membership to be eligible for Ryder Cup? They will need to rack up starts in the Desert swing early in the year.

So now that we are into the run of strong European Tour events and heating up in the Race to Dubai, has anyone else noticed that Mr. McIlroy would be 4th in the RTD points if he had just declared his membership from the beginning of the season? Instead he is 31st, though he could still make up that ground and will be playing BMW PGA, Dunhill Links, and WGC-HSBC.

It would be pretty remarkable to win both the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai in the same year, not to mention lucrative, but he seems to have needlessly handicapped himself and gets no credit for his strong finishes in the early season WGC events (and The Masters) as a result.

I know it’s popular on here to imply that the the European Tour is more #woke than the PGA Tour, but I’d like to point out that the European Tour reduced the field of its flagship event from 150 to 132 this year (note that last week’s field was 156!) with the result that the #27 player on the Race to Dubai is eighth alternate, five positions behind Michael Campbell.

This article doesn’t mention the elephant in the room: tee boxes.

Didnt they do a tournament like this in Australia last year (and also included the Senior tour)? I thought I remember that going pretty well and no issues with each of the 3 groups using different tees.

There was the Jordan Mixed Open with the Challenge Tour, Euro Senior Tour, and LET. It wasn’t an official money event on any of the tours. This one is an official Race to Dubai event and they say it will have OWGR points.

The Irish Open may have changed dates and still not have a course due to the move of the FedEx WGC to July 4 weekend, but somehow the JP McManus pro-am at Adare Manor is still going forward July 6-7 with just about the strongest field of 20 players imaginable (in terms of fan interest, if not necessarily world ranking - Koepka being the obvious omission):

  1. Tiger Woods
  2. Rory McIlroy
  3. Dustin Johnson
  4. Phil Mickelson
  5. Justin Rose
  6. Jon Rahm
  7. Shane Lowry
  8. Sergio Garcia
  9. Xander Schauffele
  10. Tommy Fleetwood
  11. Tony Finau
  12. Henrik Stenson
  13. Matt Kuchar
  14. Paul Casey
  15. Padraig Harrinton
  16. Graeme McDowell
  17. Matthew Fitzpatrick
  18. Rafa Cabrera-Bello
  19. Paul McGinley
  20. Tyrrell Hatton

The appearance fees McManus must be paying to get them all there in the middle of the season must be astonishing.

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