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Irish Open critical to Euro Tour

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Chief executive of the European Tour Keith Pelley. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Chief executive of the European Tour Keith Pelley. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

Chief executive of the European Tour Keith Pelley. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The European Tour is juggling "three or four" potential new dates for what it describes as the "absolutely critical" Dubai Duty Free Irish Open as it plans to resume its 2020 season with a six-week "UK Swing" this summer.

The season was suspended after the Qatar Masters on March 8 because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

But in an impressive display of logistical, commercial and diplomatic gymnastics, CEO Keith Pelley - who categorically denied the Tour was "bankrupt or running out of money" - has come up with a tentative 24-event schedule that will eventually include the Irish Open, beginning with six events in England and Wales.

The season will resume with Lee Westwood's hosting of the Betfred British Masters at Close House near Newcastle from July 22-25 - the first of six consecutive, €1million-plus events to be played behind closed doors at UK resorts, all of which boast on-site hotels.

The restart is contingent on the lifting of quarantine measures in the UK. But with strict Covid-19 testing measures in place, the Tour hopes to confirm another 14 events, "including Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal", to go with four Rolex Series events it confirmed yesterday. The Irish Open could yet move to October 1-4 in the new tour schedule.

"The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is still absolutely critical and is very much part of our plans," Pelley said of the E7million event that was due to be played at Mount Juliet Resort in Co Kilkenny this week.

"I don't want you to think that the Irish Open, because it is not part of this announcement, is less important, because that would give you the wrong message."