European Tour withdraw support for 2016 WGC-Bridgestone
Money won in invitational won’t count towards Race to Dubai or Ryder Cup points
European Tour CEO Keith Pelley said on Tuesday morning that they will be withdrawing their support for the WGC tournament next year - which Shane Lowry won last week in Akron, Ohio. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Shane Lowry’s attempt to qualify for next year’s Ryder Cup team could be complicated by this morning’s European Tour announcement that they will not be co-sanctioning the 2016 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Having posted his first victory in America over the weekend, Lowry will naturally be expected to defend his title in Ohio next summer but because of a date clash with the French Open, new European Tour CEO Keith Pelley said on Tuesday morning that they will be withdrawing their support for the WGC tournament.
Withdrawing the sanction means that the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will not be part of The 2016 European Tour International Schedule, nor will money won in it count towards The Race to Dubai or for Ryder Cup points. It will leave many top-ranked European players with a tough decision to make that week and Lowry especially with an almost impossible one.
The French open is the oldest national open in Europe and has been a fixture on the calendar since the tour’s formation in 1972. It has traditionally had one of the larger purses outside the majors and WGC events and as such, has usually drawn a fairly high-class field.
Graeme McDowell won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014, and other recent winners include Miguel Angel Jimenez and Martin Kaymer. It wouldn’t normally clash with a WGC event but next year’s Bridgestone has been shifted to an earlier date as a one-off gesture to accommodate the Olympics. Next year is also the 100th staging of the French Open, which has prompted the European Tour to take this stand.
“The Albatross Course at Le Golf National is currently undergoing renovation to prepare not only for next year’s landmark tournament, but also for the staging of The Ryder Cup in 2018,” said Pelley. “The Alstom Open de France has been a staple on our Tour since 1972 and we are confident that next year’s event, with an increased prize fund alongside the current renovations to the golf course, will properly reflect the importance of the tournament alongside the 100th anniversary celebrations.”