European Tour reportedly set to announce run of tournaments in UK this summer

Lee Westwood: Roling back the years in Abu Dhabi

The European Tour are soon to announce a run of tournaments in the UK this summer, according to reports.

Golf Digest revealed on Thursday that two sources have confirmed plans are evolving which would see the Tour return with a month-long, behind-closed-doors stay in the UK, including the British Masters, and a return to Celtic Manor in Wales.

Of the five events which are proposed, only one - the British Masters - is featured on the original schedule for 2020. All are set to take place at courses with on-site hotels as the circuit attempts to create a 'bubble' to make for easier health and safety management amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, the British Masters is due to take place on July 30, one week prior to the PGA Championship, the first men's major of 2020. It is not clear how the field for the latter will be put together, but what seems certain is that some European Tour players who would usually have taken part are now far from certain to do so.

Instead, the prospect of a run of events in the UK could hold great appeal, including to British Masters host Lee Westwood and world number 10 Tommy Fleetwood.

Westwood told Golf Channel earlier this week that he does not intend to travel to the US for their first event back, which begins on June 11. Fleetwood had already placed his participation in doubt and European Tour bosses may even hope the highest-ranked English player is instead able to add a touch of class to their proposals, along with the former world number one, Westwood.

"Right now I won't be playing them, not with having to leave here two weeks before, quarantine, then play the two tournaments, then come back here and quarantine again," Westwood said.

"It's six weeks for two tournaments, and to me that's just not worth it. And it's not worth taking the risk if everybody thinks that those kind of precautions have got to be in place. I don't feel like golf's a priority if it's that severe."

Former British Masters winner Eddie Pepperell, who won the event at Walton Heath in 2018, told Sky Sports he will prioritise the UK swing should it come to pass - rather than travel to the US.

"Even if the rules were to change, and if the rumours from the European Tour are true, and there might be some golf to be played in the UK in July and August in a run, I will prioritise that ahead of one major championship in San Francisco," he said.

"Playing the UK events makes more sense to me, and I can't see myself going anywhere outside of Europe, and I've got a holiday booked in Ibiza in July!"

It is expected that whenever the European Tour does return - some reports suggest the British Masters may be brought forward a week to July 23 - it will do so with reduced prize money and some of the extravagances brought about by its success no longer in place, such as courtesy cars taking players from hotels to courses, and some aspects of on-site hospitality.

Golf Digest also revealed that Qualifying School will not take place and neither will graduation from the Challenge Tour, as those who started the year with European Tour cards see their status protected.

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