The European Tour will resume its 2020 season with a six-week ‘UK Swing’ starting with the Betfred British Masters hosted by Lee Westwood on July 22-25.
The resumption will follow a four-and-a-half month break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the tour’s last event being the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on March 5-8.
The Betfred British Masters will be played at Close House near Newcastle in the northeast of England, and will be followed by the English Open at the Marriott Forest of Arden and the English Championship at Marriott Hanbury Manor. The UK Swing continues with back-to-back events at Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, the Celtic Classic and the Wales Open, before concluding with the UK Championship at The Belfry on August 27-30.
Rescheduled dates have also been announced for four Rolex Series events: the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club now takes place from October 8-11,the BMW PGA Championship tees off at Wentworth Club the following week, October 15-18, while the final two tournaments of the year, the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player and DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, are rescheduled to December 3-6 and December 10-13 respectively.
All tournaments played in the reshaped 2020 season will be governed by a comprehensive health strategy developed by Dr Andrew Murray, the tour’s chief medical officer, in consultation with health care specialists Cignpost. The tournaments will also be part of the tour’s new ‘Golf for Good’ initiative, which aims to give back in three key areas: supporting the communities where the European Tour plays, rewarding the true heroes such as the front line workers. and promoting the many health benefits that golf offers.
The ‘Golf for Good’ initiative will be launched at the UK Swing, culminating in £500,000 from the European Tour being distributed equally between charities local to the tournament venues, as well as charities chosen by the leading 10 players in a mini Order of Merit across the six tournaments.
“Without question we have had to think differently about the remainder of our 2020 season which is reflected in today’s announcement. As golf’s global tour, diversity is ordinarily one of our biggest strengths, but in this instance it has become one of our biggest challenges,” said European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley.
“We have consistently said that safety is our absolute priority and that is why today we are announcing our resumption in two months’ time supported by a comprehensive health strategy which has been led by our medical team. Initially, therefore, based on the expert guidance we received, playing in clusters, in one territory, is the best option in terms of testing, travel and accommodation.
“I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank Betfred, Close House, Marriott, The Forest of Arden, Hanbury Manor, The Celtic Manor Resort and The Belfry for sharing our vision for this ‘UK Swing’ and we look forward to returning to tournament play in July with this innovative stretch of six events.
“I also want to pay tribute to Rolex, BMW, Aberdeen Standard Investments, the Scottish Government, Nedbank, Sun International and DP World, for their continued commitment to the European Tour which allowed us to move four hugely important tournaments on the European Tour into new dates later in the year. Not only did they show flexibility, they also showed understanding of the current global situation and we are truly fortunate to have them as partners of the European Tour.”
While a new Race to Dubai Champion will be crowned on December 13, as part of the changes to the end of the 2020 season caused by the impact of Covid-19, the European Tour’s tournament committee has agreed that all members’ 2020 categories, and their ranking within that category, will be retained in 2021 with related playing rights being protected to the absolute maximum possible in the 2021 season. There will also no longer be a minimum tournament regulation for the 2020 season.
Pelley noted: “We recognise that when we resume playing golf, each player’s circumstances will be different. We therefore do not want to put anyone in a position whereby they feel they have no choice other than to play in certain events in order to protect their livelihood.
“Similarly, the feeling was that it was not fair to disadvantage any member who might want to play in an event but who might not be able to due to ongoing travel restrictions. Therefore, in consultation with our tournament committee, it was agreed preserving their exempt status for 2021 was the fairest solution in these unprecedented times.
“As a consequence, there will be no Qualifying School this year and no formal graduation from the Challenge Tour, although the tournament committee has agreed to reward exceptional performance on both the European Tour and the Challenge Tour in 2020, precise details of which we will announce in due course.” – European Tour