Next season’s European Tour schedule will have a very different look to it following a raft of changes announced by the tour today [October 29].
The most significant alteration to the previous schedule is the shifting of the BMW PGA Championship, traditionally billed as the European Tour’s flagship event, from its traditional date in May to a new slot in September.
This change was forced upon the European Tour following a decision to move the US PGA Championship to May. The 2019 BMW PGA Championship will be held at Wentworth from September 19-22, and will be sandwiched between the KLM Open and the Dunhill Links Championship in St Andrews.
In other calendar switches announced, the Italian Open and the French Open move from June to October, the Andalucia Valderrama Masters moves from October to June, while the British Masters switches from October to May. The latter event will be hosted by England’s Tommy Fleetwood, and will be held at Hillside Golf Club in Lancashire during the week before the US PGA Championship.
Another significant change sees January’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship added to the Rolex Series schedule, and its prize fund increased from €3m to €7m to bring it into line with the money on offer at the Irish Open, Scottish Open, BMW PGA Championship, Italian Open, Turkish Airlines Open, the Nedbank Golf Challenge and the DP World Tour Championship.
As always, innovation remains an integral part of any European Tour season and in addition to the third staging of the GolfSixes event – which this year will be held in Portugal – the pioneering Shot Clock Challenge is also set to return in August after its ground-breaking debut earlier this year, as will the Belgian Knockout at the end of May.
In addition to GolfSixes, male and female professionals will also play together at the Trophée Hassan II tournament in Morocco in April, as well as at the Vic Open in Australia in February, which makes its debut on the European Tour. The AUD$3 million tournament is Australia’s richest and sees men and women professionals play on the same course at the same time for an equal share of the prize fund.
South Africa and Morocco are not the only African countries to feature on the European Tour in 2019 – the third country from that continent to take its place being Kenya in the shape of the Kenya Open at the Karen Country Club in Nairobi in March, the tournament stepping up from the Challenge Tour where it has featured since 1991.
The 12-month schedule, which will run from November 2018 to November 2019, highlights the global nature of the European Tour, with 48 tournaments in 31 countries spanning five continents – Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia and North America. As in 2018 there are 47 tournaments counting towards the Race to Dubai money list.
Keith Waters, Chief Operating Officer of the European Tour, said: “We are delighted with our 2019 International Schedule, which illustrates precisely what we are all about; namely a Tour which delivers a significant breadth and scope of global coverage in addition to taking a leading role in innovation and transformation. Our grateful thanks go to our co-sanctioning partners at the Asian Tour, the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia and the Sunshine Tour, in addition to the many sponsors, partners and promoters we work with in so many different countries to deliver these world-class events.”