The big­gest sea­son shake-up in Tour his­tory

There’s a very dif­fer­ent look to the Euro­pean Tour cal­en­dar in 2019

Today's Golfer (UK) - - FIRST TEE -

Next year sees one of the big­gest Tour shake-ups in liv­ing mem­ory, with new dates for some of the big­gest events – in­clud­ing a May move for the US PGA which has forced a Septem­ber shift for the flag­ship BMW PGA at Went­worth.

The 2019 Euro­pean Tour be­gins in Hong Kong, less than four days af­ter the last “2018” event in Dubai, and starts a run of 48 tour­na­ments in 52 weeks. In to­tal, the Tour will travel to 31 coun­tries across five con­ti­nents, stop­ping off in far-flung places like Saudi Ara­bia and Kenya. Here’s a taster of what’s to come…

Re­vamped Rolex Se­ries

The Open de France is out, the Abu Dhabi Cham­pi­onship is in. What hasn’t changed, though, is the min­i­mum prize kitty of $7 mil­lion and the rest of the eight premier events, which in­clude the Ir­ish Open, Scot­tish Open, BMW PGA Cham­pi­onship, Ital­ian Open, Turk­ish Open, Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge and World Tour Champs. The

Rolex Se­ries kicks off in Jan­uary be­fore tak­ing a break for six months and re­turn­ing at the Ir­ish Open, where Paul Mcgin­ley dons the role of host at Lahinch. The Scot­tish Open fol­lows a week later at Tom Doak’s Re­nais­sance Club in Loth­ian, and will again pre­cede The Open – now the fi­nal Ma­jor of the year – at Royal Portrush (the first time since 1951 it has not been held in Scot­land or Eng­land).

New in­no­va­tions

Golf­sixes may be back for a third year, but it will no longer be held at Cen­tu­rion in Hert­ford­shire. In­stead, it’s be­ing taken to Por­tu­gal – a week be­fore the US Open no less – and will see both sexes bat­tle it on June 8-9. Co-gen­der events will also ap­pear at the Trophee Has­san II in Morocco and the new Vic Open in Aus­tralia, where men and women will com­pete on the same course and for the same prize money. The re­turn­ing Bel­gian Knock­out, Shot Clock Chal­lenge and World Su­per 6 Perth mean there are six events which break away from tra­di­tional stroke­play.

Big date changes

The BMW PGA Cham­pi­onship at Went­worth will now take place in Septem­ber. The knock-on ef­fect means the na­tional opens of France and Italy move back to Oc­to­ber, and the Valder­rama Masters comes for­ward to June.

Tommy’s Bri­tish Masters

De­spite fears over its fu­ture af­ter Sky Sports ended its spon­sor­ship, the Bri­tish Masters was saved at the 11th hour by new host Tommy Fleet­wood, who will be tak­ing the event to the su­perb links of Hill­side, in his home­town of South­port (tick­ets on sale now, with day passes from £15 and week­end passes from £45). The only down­side is that it’s a week be­fore the US PGA in May.

New tour­na­ments

Next year sees the re­turn of the Al­fred Dun­hill Cham­pi­onship in South Africa af­ter a one-year hia­tus, and the Kenya Open makes the step up from the Chal­lenge Tour where it has resided since 1991. Com­plet­ing the list of new­bies are the Vic Open in Aus­tralia and the Saudi In­ter­na­tional, which re­place the Si­cil­ian Open and Fiji In­ter­na­tional. Two South African events, the Joburg Open and Tsh­wane Open, have also been lost from the cal­en­dar, while the Nordea Masters is now known as the Scan­di­na­vian Open.

Tommy Fleet­wood will host the Bri­tish Masters from May 9-12 at Hill­side.

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