European Tour CEO Keith Pelley insisted that while the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open does not appear on the revamped 2020 schedule, the hosting of the event is ‘absolutely critical’ in the Tour getting back to some form of normality.
Pelley confirmed plans for the resumption of the 2020 season with the launch of a six-week ‘UK Swing’ as well as the confirmation of new dates for four Rolex Series events up to an including the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
The six events will each offer €1m in prize-money and they will mark the first of 24 events from the third week of July through until December 13.
The Tour indicated also that all 144 players competing in the ‘UK Swing’ will stay at on-course hotels while there will be no spectators and no media allowed in attendance at the six events.
All tournaments, at venues within 300 miles of each other, will be 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.
Looking at the revised schedule, the opening two weeks of September are the only weeks currently free along with the third week of October and the first and also third and fourth week of November.
And if the Irish Open is to return to Mt. Juliet, it would seem one of those first two weeks in September would be the choice.
“The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is still absolutely critical and is very much part of our plans,” said Pelley.
“I don’t want you to think that the Irish Open, because it is not part of this announcement, is less important, because that would give you the wrong message.
“It is hugely important to us. So much so that we have three or four date options for it. We could have announced it today but it wouldn’t have been 100 percent and I didn’t feel comfortable with that.
“Like all of the events, there are so many variables that come into moving an event from one date to the other: Title partner support, venue support, government support, the best possible date for that particular tournament; in the case of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, Rolex’s opinions and comments. There are so many variables that come into it, and now the next one that comes into it is travel and how we can ease the travel and what can the date beside it, both before and after, to minimise the travel.
“I think what was really fascinating, I was privileged to be a member of the committee with Jay Monahan and the PGA Tour and the four majors, was I think the four majors found it very difficult to move one event. But to move 30 events, the only event on our schedule that hasn’t moved from the original date at this particular time is the Alfred Dunhill.
“So they have all moved, and it’s very, very tricky to move events, but rest easy. The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is critical for us, and we are having all those conversations you alluded to right now.”
The first six European Tour tournaments are:
The Betfred British Masters at Close House in England from Wednesday July 22 to Saturday July 25 – a week earlier than originally scheduled.
The English Open at the Marriott Forest of Arden from July 30 to August 3
The English Championship at Marriott Hanbury Manor from August 6 to 9
The Celtic Classic at Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales from August 13 – 16
The Wales Open at Celtic Manor from August 20 – 23 and
The UK Championship at The Belfry near Birmingham and to be played from August 27 to 30
Two of the six will be staged the same week at the WGC – Fedex St. Jude Invitational (July 30 to August 3) and the PGA Championship a week later in San Francisco.