Centenary forces 2016 Bridgestone to standalone

A potential clash with Europe’s oldest national Open championship, outside of Great Britain, has cost next year’s WGC Bridgestone Invitational co-sanctional status with the European Tour.

The Open de France has been a cornerstone event since the European Tour was formed in 1972 and there’s no way the second biggest golf tour in the world was about to desert it.

Keith Pelley European Tour CEO Keith Pelley

Especially when the event is about to celebrate its 100th year!

The Open de France is scheduled to be run the same week as next year’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational owing to a “re-vamp” of the US PGA Tour’s 2016 calendar to accommodate the Olympic Games and its’ much-heralded return of golf.

So both tournaments will now be run at the end of June, no doubt costing both events a few of the undoubted drawcards that would normally be there.

And with no co-sanction it means that money earned at the World Golf Championship will not count towards the Race to Dubai in 2016 or the European team’s Ryder Cup points.

Indeed France’s Albatros Course at Le Golf National has been undergoing extensive renovations to prepare it for next year’s Centenary tournament as well as the 2018 Ryder Cup, which will be played there for the first time.

According to the European Tour’s new CEO Keith Pelley: “The Open de France has been a staple on our Tour since 1972 and we are confident next year’s event, with an increased prize fund alongside the current renovations to the golf course, will properly reflect the importance of the tournament alongside the 100th anniversary celebrations.”

There’s no hard feelings from the US PGA Tour, which issued a statement suggesting: “Coordinating a world-wide professional golf schedule always has its challenges. Those challenges were even more acute for 2016 with addition of golf’s inclusion in the Olympic Games.

“Several events were impacted and while we have had numerous conversations with the European Tour with respect to the scheduling of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, we were ultimately unable to find a solution that satisfied all parties.”