Sport Golf

Thursday 27 July 2017

Stenson and Rose's timely return to Europe boosts Rolex Series

 

Rose will feature at this, the first of eight tournaments, including the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart in July, that feature in the Rolex Series. Photo: PA Wire
Rose will feature at this, the first of eight tournaments, including the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart in July, that feature in the Rolex Series. Photo: PA Wire
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Open Champion Henrik Stenson and Olympic gold medal winner Justin Rose will headline a star-studded field for the historic first staging of a Rolex Series event at the BMW PGA Championship which starts on Thursday.

Stenson and Rose are just two of nine members of the 2016 European Ryder Cup team who will flock to Wentworth for the Tour's flagship event which boasts a $7 million prize fund.

This is the first of eight tournaments, including the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart in July, that feature in the Rolex Series.

The mega-millions enhancement to carefully selected events through the 2017 schedule underlines European Tour CEO Keith Pelley's ambition to compete with the PGA Tour for star quality.

Rory McIlroy will not be part of the extravaganza on the revamped West Course at the Surrey venue due to an aggravation of the rib injury that disrupted his early season schedule.

In his absence, Irish interest centres on Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry, Paul Dunne, Paul McGinley, Darren Clarke, Damien McGrane and Neil O'Briain.

TRAPPED

This is Harrington's first tournament since he underwent surgery on a trapped nerve between his C6 and C7 spinal vertebrae last March. From the day he had the operation, the three-time Major champion targeted a return to action in May.

McGrane (46) opted out of the European Tour in 2015. He remains a formidable competitor on the home circuit and is the current Irish PGA Champion. O'Briain (30) is the club pro at Old Conna in County Wicklow. The Irish duo are among 12 PGA regional professionals competing at Wentworth.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of Golf in Ireland has launched a new report titled: "Golf in Ireland, a statistical analysis of participation." The report was carried out by Dr Pete Lunn and Dr Eilish Kelly of the ESRI.

On the positive side, they confirm that golf is a game for life with the highest participation rates for those in their 60s and 70s.

However, fewer people under the age of 55 are playing the game. The GUI and ILGU are working to redress that imbalance by schemes such as the CGI 'Get into Golf' programme and 'Golf4Girls4Life.

On Sunday night Billy Horschel won his first PGA Tour title since 2014, and fourth in total, by winning the AT&T Byron Nelson after getting the better of Jason Day in a play-off. Both men finished on 12 under but Horschel prevailed after Day missed a four-foot putt for par on the first extra hole.

Irish Independent

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