The biggest season shake-up in Tour history
There’s a very different look to the European Tour calendar in 2019
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).
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.
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.