By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 08/07/20 6:58am
A history-making win for Lee Westwood, a return to the winner’s circle for Graeme McDowell and a teenager’s maiden title were among the early-season highlights on the European Tour.
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The 2020 European Tour schedule has been severely hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic, with just 11 events completed before the season came to a coronavirus-enforced halt in early-March.
At least 18 events remain on the Race to Dubai calendar and more are still set to be rescheduled, with the campaign culminating at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai from December 10-13.
Ahead of the season’s resumption this week at the Austrian Open, co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour and the first event back on the European Tour since March 8, we take a tournament-by-tournament look back at what has happened so far…
The season opened with an incredible final round at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, where Pablo Larrazabal recovered from throwing away a three-stroke advantage and posting a front-nine 41 to snatch a remarkable victory.
Larrazabal bogeyed three of his first five holes and dropped four shots in a three-hole stretch from the seventh, with the Spaniard struggling to walk due to blisters, only to birdie three of his last four holes to secure a first European Tour title since 2015.
Rasmus Hojgaard became the third-youngest European Tour winner in history at the AfrAsiaBank Mauritius Open a week later, with the 18-year-old eagling the third extra play-off hole to top the leaderboard in just his fifth European Tour start.
The year was rounded off with a long-awaited victory for former world No 1 Adam Scott, who ended a three-and-a-half-year winless run with a two-shot victory on home soil at the Australian PGA Championship.
A final-day hole-in-one from Louis Oosthuizen wasn’t enough for him to successfully defend his title at the South African Open, as Branden Grace carded a nine-under 62 and registered a three-shot win.
The opening Rolex Series event of the year – the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship – resulted in a two-shot victory at 25th European Tour title for Lee Westwood, seeing the English become only the third player to win European Tour events in four different decades.
European Challenge Tour Golf
July 16, 2020, 10:45am
Lucas Herbert secured his breakthrough victory a week later, edging past Christiaan Bezuidenhout on the second extra play-off hole to win the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
A first European Tour victory in 2,037 days parachuted Graeme McDowell back inside the world’s top 50, with the Northern Irishman finishing two ahead of Dustin Johnson at the Saudi International.
There was another maiden Australian winner at the ISPS Handa Vic Open, as Min Woo Lee finished two clear of Ryan Fox at Barwon Heads, before Patrick Reed moved top of the Race to Dubai standings with his win at the WGC-Mexico Championship.
Bryson DeChambeau had set the clubhouse target after a six-under 65 at Chapultepec Golf Club, only for Reed to birdie four of his last seven holes on his way to a one-shot victory and third European Tour title.
Sami Välimäki became only the fourth golfer from Finland to win on the European Tour after securing a breakthrough victory – in just his sixth start at the Oman Open.
Valimaki defeated Brandon Stone in a play-off to join Mikko Ilonen, Roope Kakko and Mikko Korhonen as the only Finnish winners in European Tour history.
It took extra holes to find a winner a week later at the Qatar Masters – the final event before golf’s coronavirus-enforced shutdown – as Jorge Campillo defeated David Drysdale at the fifth extra hole to extend the Scot’s wait for a long-awaited maiden European Tour title.
The Magical Kenya Open, scheduled for March 12-15, was postponed the week before it was due to take place, with no golf possible on the European Tour until this week’s event – co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour – in Austria.