European Tour looking beyond Dubai

Europe’s best golfers may still be jockeying for position on the 2014 Race To Dubai, with the season’s climax at the DP Tour Championship still five weeks away.

European Tour looking beyond Dubai

Yet it is just seven weeks until the start of the 2015 season and the European Tour yesterday released its early season schedule from December through to the Masters in April.

The Tour, still celebrating dominance over its American cousins at last month’s Ryder Cup, has underlined its international reach by confirming the inclusion of two new tournaments for next season, in Thailand and India.

With the DP World Tour Championship concluding in Dubai on Sunday, November 23, the 2015 season gets underway just a fortnight later, at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa on December 4.

The inaugural Thailand Classic joins the Race To Dubai schedule from February 12-15, 2015, for the first European Tour event in that country since the 2007 Johnnie Walker Classic in Phuket.

And a week later, the Hero Indian Open will also make its debut in an event co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour, part of a three-tournament run in the continent.

“The initial part of The 2015 Race to Dubai once again demonstrates the global appeal of The European Tour, with the familiar swings in South Africa and the Desert, allied to a new date for the Maybank Malaysian Open, and the introduction of two new events, in Thailand and India,” said Keith Waters, the European Tour’s chief operating officer and director of international Policy.

“We can all look forward to a strong opening to The 2015 Race to Dubai, which will appeal to our membership as well as the many followers of The European Tour around the world.”

And what an end to the opening sector of the season it will be, if Ireland’s Rory McIlroy were to bring the curtain down on it with a victory at the Masters on April 12, for a third straight major win and the completion of a career Grand Slam.

Swinging time at Festival of Golf

The nights are closing in, the wind is getting up and for many there are dark thoughts of shoving the clubs back into storage for the winter.

All of which means it’s that time of year for Golf Ireland’s annual Time to Play – Festival of Golf.

The event, staged in association with Fáilte Ireland is, as always, free to attend and will this year be staged at the Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin, on Tuesday, November 4 from 5pm-9pm.

The idea behind the Festival of Golf is to whet the appetite for the season ahead as golfers of all abilities are invited to attend and to talk to Ireland’s top golf clubs and resorts, all under one roof.

As well as learning about their facilities and any offers they have available for 2015, attendees are being lured with the promise of many “amazing” golf prizes.

“It promises to be the ultimate evening for golf enthusiasts in search of the best golfing break deals out there,” a Golf Ireland spokesperson said.

“This Golf Ireland night, is the perfect chance to learn about Ireland’s world class golf courses and get the best deals out there, for your next golf getaway.

“It’s also an ideal opportunity to look at membership options for novice golfers looking to take up the game.”

The Festival will also have a golf simulator at the event and free expert tuition.

Turner stays on course to card special Tour double

Niall Turner’s rich vein of form on two continents has continued, with the Muskerry club man closing in on an Asian Tour card after another strong finish at the weekend.

Turner, 31, moved to third on the Asian Development Tour order of merit thanks to a second place in the ADT Chang Hwa Open in Taiwan. Rounds of 72, 66, 67 and 70 saw the Cork man finish on nine under par, behind Thailand’s Pavit Tangkamolprasert, and has and now sets his sights on securing a top-five order of merit finish that would give him a full Asian Tour card two weeks ahead of schedule at this week’s tournament in India.

“With three tournaments left, if I play well in India, I could secure my tour card,” Turner said. “Pavit got away from me early with a few birdies and then I focused on coming second, because Grant Jackson my playing partner (from England) was chasing me and I did not want him to pass me as he is close to me in the order of merit.”

Turner, who won the Jakarta Classic in July, is leaving an injury and illness-hit couple of years firmly behind him and is not only on track to securing an Asian Tour card but also similar status in Europe.

He made good use of a trip home to Ireland in September by coming through the first qualifying stage of European Tour Qualifying School. Turner came third at the Section C event in Hardelot, France and is now just one tournament from reaching the final Q-School qualifying stage in December. To reach that, though, Turner has to get through the second qualifying stage at Las Colinas Golf & Country Club in Spain, from November 7 to 10.

Norman to coach China Olympic team

Two-time Open champion Greg Norman is to coach China’s Olympic golf team and will this week make a return to the course for the first time since his career-threatening chainsaw injury.

The 59-year-old former world number one suffered nerve damage to his left hand after an accident when he was using a chainsaw last month.

However, Norman will work with the China national junior team at the Mission Hills Haikou on the island of Hainan on Thursday ahead of the three-day Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am, which feature Ryder Cup-winning captain Paul McGinley and players Justin Rose and Ian Poulter.

Norman will act as special advisor to the Chinese Olympic team, assisting and training players in the build-up to the 2016 Games in Rio as part of an agreement with the China Golf Association and Mission Hills.

“Greg is one of the true icons of global golf and it will be a thrill for young Chinese players and our teaching professionals to work with him and benefit from his major-winning experience,” said Mission Hills executive director Iain Roberts.

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