The European Tour’s Iberian Swing is now underway at Spain’s renowned Royal Valderrama Club before moving to the Algarve next week.
Following a major reshaping of the Tour to accommodate COVID-19 protocols for major sports events, Europe’s top players have set up “bubble” camp in southern Europe for consecutive events in Spain and Portugal.
The Tour returned to action in July after its postponement in March, with a new schedule based on holding events (where possible) in regional or territorial clusters. Initially, two events were held in Austria, before the new six-event UK Swing was inaugurated.
The Iberian Swing began this week at Valderrama – the venue for 25 major tournaments over the past three decades, including the 1997 Ryder Cup – with the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, which originally had been scheduled for April.
Next week (10-13 September), the Tour moves across the border to another celebrated course, Dom Pedro Victoria (Vilamoura), for the Portugal Masters, initially scheduled for October before the season was suspended due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Englishman Steven Brown was a surprise – and extremely happy – winner in 2019 when the Masters was the last regular event of the season.
Then the Iberian Swing concludes with the Open de Portugal at Royal Óbidos (north of Lisbon), returning to the European Tour schedule as a dual ranking event from 17 to 20 September. The tournament had already been confirmed for the European Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca for a third consecutive year but will now also double up on the European Tour for the first time since 2017.
The 58th edition of the historic event is being promoted by the Portuguese Golf Federation. First played in 1973, it has an impressive honour board of winners including Sam Torrance (1982 and 1983), Colin Montgomerie (1989), Miguel Ángel Jiménez (2004) and Thomas Bjørn (2010).
Matt Wallace won the first of his European Tour tiles the last time the Open de Portugal was part of the main Tour’s Race to Dubai, in 2017, while Dimitrios Papadatos and Adrian Meronk secured their maiden Challenge Tour victories at the event in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Welcoming the tournament’s renewed status, Portuguese Golf Federation president Miguel Franco de Sousa said, “We are very happy to secure another dual ranking Open de Portugal, which moves to Royal Óbidos for the next three years… We believe that Royal Óbidos, a Seve Ballesteros design, will be a good test of golf for both European and Challenge Tour players.
“This event shows our strong commitment to work closely with the European Tour in order to promote Portugal as one of the best golf destinations in the world, on the one hand and, on the other, to provide playing opportunities to our playing professionals, especially in this difficult season with very few tournaments being played.”
All tournaments in the reshaped 2020 season are being governed by the Tour’s comprehensive health strategy, developed by chief medical officer Dr Andrew Murray in consultation with health care specialists Cignpost and advisers in countries that host European Tour events.
They are also being underpinned by the European Tour’s new “Golf for Good” initiative, which “aims to support communities where the European Tour plays, reward true heroes, such as frontline workers, and promote the many health benefits that golf offers”.
Following the practice of playing behind closed doors since the re-start of the 2020 Race to Dubai, the Tour has confirmed that no general spectators will be permitted at the 2020 Portugal Masters or Open de Portugal.