Ryder Cup hopefuls, including newly crowned champion Shane Lowry, will face a dilemma next season after the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was withdrawn from the European Tour schedule.
A re-working of the PGA Tour’s 2016 calendar to accommodate golf’s return to the Olympics has seen the prestigious World Golf Championship event brought forward to the end of June.
That brings it into direct conflict with one of the oldest tournaments in European golf, the Alstom Open de France at Le Golf National, venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup.
And the European Tour have responded by withdrawing their sanction of the WGC event at Firestone Country Club, meaning money won in Akron will not count for Ryder Cup points or towards the Race to Dubai.
Lowry will undoubtedly want to defend the title he won in such style on Sunday, but he and others could be in need of Ryder Cup points at that time, with the qualifying race traditionally ending in late August.
Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell admitted last week he would choose Paris over Akron after winning there in 2013 and 2014, adding: “It’s a golf course I prefer.
“It’s a tournament which I want to be loyal to because of how good they’ve been to me and how much success has been there. The Ryder Cup race is going to be heating up. There’s going to be a lot of things going on this time next year.”
McDowell admitted there was a “little bit of surprise” among the players at the clash of dates, adding: “I don’t see myself as necessarily a European Tour player. I’m a PGA Tour player also.
“The European Tour is my home, and that’s kind of where I learned this great game of golf, and I feel always loyal, and I feel like I owe them something at all times.
“But we’re businessmen, and we’re trying to be the best we can be, and you’ve got to make tough decisions sometimes as well. The schedule is a mess next summer, let’s be honest. There’s no other way to put it.
“The PGA Tour has had to make some tough decisions. I don’t blame them. It’s just business. It’s just one of those things. Hopefully, we’ll be back to normal the following year.”
New European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said in a statement: “The Alstom Open de France is the oldest national open championship in continental Europe and has been a fixture on The European Tour International Schedule since the Tour’s formation in 1972,” said a statement.
“Furthermore, next year’s tournament at Le Golf National from Thursday June 30 to Sunday July 3 is not only in the week in the calendar occupied by the Alstom Open de France since 2009 it is also the 100th staging of the event.
“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.”