Aussies split on joining Euro Tour resumption

Dubai Desert Classic champion Lucas Herbert will give it a miss while Zach Murray has expressed his intention to go as the European Tour confirmed the resumption of its 2020 season with a six-week stretch in the United Kingdom starting July 22.

With the PGA TOUR set to resume with the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 11, the complicated travel implications of the European Tour made its return to the calendar difficult to predict.

But in a release overnight detailing just how the Tour plans to move forward and the dates for four Rolex Series events towards the end of the year, Chief Executive Keith Pelley conceded that the diversity that the European Tour celebrates each week has been problematic in plotting a return to tournament play.

“Without question we have had to think differently about the remainder of our 2020 season which is reflected in today’s announcement,” Pelley said in the release.

“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.

“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.”

The Tour will play its first event since the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters concluded on March 8 at the Betfred British Masters at Close House Golf Club starting July 22, the first of six straight events that will feature back-to-back events at the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales, site of the 2010 Ryder Cup.

The European Tour recently guaranteed that all players with 2020 status would retain their existing category through until the end of the 2021 season, taking the pressure off those with limited playing opportunities who may be unsure about travelling internationally during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Welcoming the run of events that will be played without spectators present and “subject to stringent safety and testing protocols set out in the Tour’s comprehensive Health Strategy which will continue to evolve, aligned with international Government guidance and health guidelines”, the likes of Zach Murray and Jake McLeod intend to seek Australian Government approval for exemption from the international travel ban to travel to the UK.

West Australian Jason Scrivener remains undecided while Lucas Herbert’s place in the fields for both the World Golf Championships-FedEx St Jude Invitational from July 30 and the US PGA Championship starting at TPC Harding Park on August 6 means that his return to Europe won’t happen until the beginning of the Rolex Series events in October.

“It’s great to see the Tour back up and running again and it’s going to be great for those communities where the tournaments are going to be played,” said Herbert, who earned a two-year European Tour exemption with victory at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in January.

“Because I’ve qualified for WGC event in Memphis and the PGA the following week, with quarantine I’d only get to play one event out of the six so I’ll take more time to prepare for the Rolex Series at year’s end.

“Hopefully everything goes according to plan, the tournaments all go ahead safely and I can head over later in the year.”

Other Aussies currently with status in Europe include Vic Open winner Min Woo Lee, Hong Kong Open champion Wade Ormsby, Scott Hend, Maverick Antcliff, Dimi Papadatos, Deyen Lawson and Jarryd Felton along with reigning PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winner Ryan Fox from New Zealand.

European Tour revised schedule
July 22-25
Betfred British Masters hosted by Lee Westwood, Close House Golf Club, England
July 30- August 2
English Open, Marriott Forest of Arden, England
August 6-9
English Championship, Marriott Hanbury Manor, England
August 13-16
Celtic Classic, The Celtic Manor Resort, Wales
August 20-23
Wales Open, The Celtic Manor Resort, Wales
August 27-30
UK Championship, The Belfry, England

Rolex Series
October 8-11
Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open, The Renaissance Club, Scotland
October 15-18
BMW PGA Championship, Wentworth Club, England
December 3-6
Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, Gary Player CC, South Africa
December 10-13
DP World Tour Championship, Dubai

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