Tuesday, 15 November 2016
Rolex  (European Tour)
Rolex (European Tour)

In 2017, the Rolex Series will feature eight tournaments in eight iconic golfing locations across the world, all offering minimum prize funds of US$ 7 million. We take a closer look at each event, starting with the BMW PGA Championship.

BMW PGA Championship
25th – 28th May
First played: 1955
Defending champion: Chris Wood

The BMW PGA Championship has been an ever present on the European Tour since the Tour’s formation in 1972, boasting some of the world’s finest golfers as champions. It was first played in 1955, when Ken Bousfield claimed the inaugural title, and the latest name on the trophy was that of Chris Wood, who triumphed in May 2016 at Wentworth Club. The venue has hosted the event every year since 1984, when Howard Clark finished two strokes clear of Bernhard Langer and Gordon Brand. Also among the roll of honour are nine Major Champions, including Seve Ballesteros and Arnold Palmer.

HNA Open de France
29th June – 2nd July
First played: 1906
Defending champion: Thongchai Jaidee

After celebrating its centenary last July, the HNA Open de France will begin a new chapter in its illustrious history when HNA Group, a global Fortune 500 company focused on tourism, logistics and financial services, takes over as title sponsor of continental Europe’s oldest national Open in a five-year commitment starting in 2017. Hosted at Le Golf National in Paris, a member of the European Tour Properties network and the host venue for The Ryder Cup next year, the tournament will form an impressive three-week stretch of Rolex Series events in the build-up to The Open Championship. 

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation
6th – 9th July
First played: 1927
Defending champion: Rory McIlroy

Since the Irish Open was first held in 1927, four players have claimed the trophy three times – Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie – with six Irishmen winning their home Open. Harry Bradshaw was the first in 1947 and Rory McIlroy was the most recent earlier this year at The K Club. Shane Lowry claimed perhaps the most memorable win in the history of the event, though, winning in 2009 while still an amateur at a rainy County Louth.


Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open
13th – 16th July
First played: 1935
Defending champion: Alex Noren

Taking place the week before The Open Championship, the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open is the perfect test of links golf. Despite the first incarnation of the tournament taking place in 1935, only four editions were held in 51 years before it became an annual event on the European Tour International Schedule in 1986. While Colin Montgomerie is the only Scot to have won since Jimmy Adams in 1936, the tournament winners’ nationalities span six of the world’s continents, from South America’s Eduardo Romero to Asia’s Jeev Milkha Singh.

Italian Open
12th – 15th October
First played: 1925
Defending champion: Francesco Molinari

A grandstand climax to the 2016 edition of the Italian Open will have fans relishing next year’s staging at Royal Park I Roveri in Turin. The 2006 champion and home favourite Francesco Molinari edged out Masters Champion Danny Willett to lift his fourth European Tour title at Golf Club Milano earlier this year and become the sixth Italian to claim victory in his Open. The event is one of seven to have featured in every European Tour season, during which it has visited 20 different venues.

Turkish Airlines Open
2nd – 5th November
First played: 2013
Defending champion: Thorbjørn Olesen

As one of the European Tour Race to Dubai’s Final Series events, the Turkish Airlines Open has commanded a strong field since its debut in 2013. One of Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup stars, Victor Dubuisson, claimed both of his European Tour wins in this event, with American Brooks Koepka earning his first victory in between the Frenchman’s victories. Thorbjørn Olesen took a seven-shot lead into the final round in Antalya in 2016, eventually winning by three strokes from David Horsey and Li Haotong.


Nedbank Golf Challenge
9th – 12th November
First played: 1981
Defending champion: Alex Noren

The Nedbank Golf Challenge is another relative newcomer to the European Tour schedule, joining in 2014 and becoming part of the Final Series for the first time in 2016. Johnny Miller won the first edition 35 years ago, with Thomas Bjørn, Danny Willett, Marc Leishman and Alex Noren winning in South Africa since the tournament joined the tour schedule. The Gary Player Country Club in Sun City hosts the event and is the third longest course in the history of the European Tour at 7,831 yards. Noren's win in 2016 came thanks to a spectacular final round, which saw the Swede card a nine under par 63.


DP World Tour Championship, Dubai
16th – 19th November
First played: 2009
Defending champion: Rory McIlroy

The season-ending finale sees the top 60 players in the Race to Dubai rankings Presented by Rolex battle it out over 72 holes at the Earth Course, at European Tour destination Jumeirah Golf Estates. It’s proved a happy hunting ground for Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson, with the duo having monopolised the title across the last four editions, with the latter claiming back-to-back victories in 2013 and 2014.  Stenson’s winning score of 25 under par in 2013 was the best to par in the tournament’s short history, with his six-shot victory only matched by Lee Westwood in 2009. The winner of the Race to Dubai is crowned at the conclusion of the tournament, which has a prize fund of $8million.

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