Euro Tour pros get creative, hold one-day tourney while waiting entry into Germany for European Open
The vast majority of European Tour events start on Thursday and finish on Sunday. Occasionally, there has been a Friday start, most notably in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, to take advantage of a Monday holiday. But rarely if ever has an event been reduced from 72- to 54 holes as a prelude to beginning on Saturday and climaxing on Monday.
Welcome to this week’s Porsche European Open at the Green Eagle golf courses in Hamburg, Germany.
The reason behind the change is both simple and symptomatic of the world we have all been living in over the past 18 months. In response to rising COVID-19 numbers in the United Kingdom, the German Government placed the U.K. on the travel “red list.” In turn, that meant almost a third of the scheduled 156-player European Open field, along with a similar number of caddies and a significant number of European Tour Productions and European Tour staff, would have been unable to enter Germany without observing a mandatory quarantine period if they had not been outside the U.K. for a minimum of 10 days.
Moving the starting date of the Porsche European Open back two days to Saturday June 5 has allowed the vast majority of those people affected to spend that requisite time outside the U.K. both during and after last week’s Made in Himmerland tournament in Denmark, before being tested and crossing the border into Germany on Friday.
“The significant travel changes announced last week meant it was simply impossible for us to start the Porsche European Open as intended without unacceptably damaging the field and the integrity of the tournament,” said European Tour chief executive, Keith Pelley. “Over the past year we have had to react to numerous changes at short notice and our ability to do this has unquestionably been down to the flexibility of our players, caddies, staff, broadcaster partners and sponsors. This is another wonderful example of everybody working together pragmatically to find a solution.”
Making the outcome of the European Open even more intriguing is that the event is the last of three-tournament series the USGA is using for qualifying into the U.S. Open. The top 10 point earners in the three events not already exempt into the field at Torrey Pines will earn a spot into the major.
The delay in the start of the event is all well and good, in addition to making the best of a bad situation. But for a large number of players that left them with time to kill in Denmark, before making the relatively short trip from Himmerland to Hamburg.
Step forward Englishman Matthew Southgate, as unofficial “tournament organizer” for those forced to prolong their stay in Denmark. On Tuesday this week, 32 players ponied up £100 each (rumor has it the European Tour kicked in a few quid too), teed-up in eight four-balls and played an 18-hole “tournament” at Himmerland.
Englishman Ben Evans claimed the biggest of the five cash prizes on offer with a 10-under-par 61, but perhaps more importantly a good time was had by all.
“There was a group-chat going, so there was plenty of banter and good-natured abuse flying about,” reports Scotsman David Law, who tied for second place on seven under. “Jordan Smith and I took on Paul Petersen and Min Woo Lee and took their cash. If you didn’t hit driver on every hole, you certainly got ‘ripped into’ verbally. It was just good fun. And we had a nice dinner and prize-giving afterwards. It was just nice to spend time with lads I might not normally be around. All in all, it was a day to really enjoy playing golf with the boys rather than just another day of work.”