2011 preview: Top 10 Euro Tour storylines
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
1. Westwood’s major search: Lee Westwood reached World No. 1 without winning a major. Will 2011 be the year he finally joins the major club? He’s certainly knocked on the door enough.
2011 Preview: Top 10 Euro Storylines
Take a look ahead at what will be some of the biggest stories of 2011 on the European Tour.
2. Olazabal’s health concerns: Jose Maria Olazabal is expected to be announced as 2012 European Ryder Cup captain. Will his health permit him to take the job? He won’t do it if he doesn’t feel he can do it properly.
3. Bjorn’s Open aspirations: Thomas Bjorn will be trying to qualify for the Open Championship at Royal St George’s, seven years after three shots from a bunker at the 16th cost him the title. Will the Dane get into the field?
4. Roe’s emotional return: Mark Roe will be at Royal St George’s as a coach, not a player. It will be an emotional return for the man who lost his chance of winning the Open Championship because of a scorecard mix-up with Jesper Parnevik.
5. Saltman’s sentence: Scotland’s Elliot Saltman has been under a cloud since he was accused of “cheating” on this year’s Challenge Tour. He got his card at Euro Q-School but might not get full use of it. He is due to find out his fate early in the new year when he faces the Euro Tour’s tournament committee.
6. Encore, please: After a 2010 campaign that saw Europe win three of the four majors, the Ryder Cup and the first Euro to become World No. 1 since 1994, what will the Euros do for an encore?
7. Can GB&I win back the Walker Cup? After three straight losses, will the best amateurs of Britain & Ireland win the cup at Royal Aberdeen?
8. The 2018 Ryder Cup venue: Bidders for the 2018 match consist of France, Germany, Holland, Spain and Portugal. France is the favorite, but money ultimately will determine where the match is held.
9. O’Grady seeks big sponsor: Euro Tour chief executive George O’Grady will be looking for a big sponsor to replace the season-ending Dubai World Championship, which is held for the final time in 2011. Where will Europe’s Tour Championship end up?
10. Will Wentworth deliver? Europe’s top players haven’t always supported the BMW PGA Championship, the Euro Tour’s flagship event. The course has been tweaked following Ernie Els’ reconstruction last year. That brought howls of protest. Will it be enough to attract Europe’s elite back to the only tournament played at Euro Tour HQ?
Top 10 young players
Romain Wattel, 19, France. Won on last year’s Challenge Tour as an amateur, and took the ninth card at the European Tour Qualifying School.
Andreas Harto, 22, Denmark. Won twice on last year’s European Challenge Tour, once as an amateur. He got the eighth card at Q-School. He came from nowhere but could be going somewhere.
Victor Dubuisson, 21, France. The Frenchman played in last year’s Open Championship after winning the 2009 European Amateur. Widely regarded as a future star.
Matthew Nixon, 21, England. Won the 2006 British Boys Championship at Royal Aberdeen. Only amateur to get a card at Euro Q-School.
Matt Haines, 21, England. Finished second on last year’s Challenge Tour. Former winner of Lytham Trophy. Considered by many to be a good prospect.
Oscar Floren, 26, Sweden. Former player at Texas Tech, where he won three times.
Steve Lewton, 27, England. Ian Poulter protégé who played college golf at North Carolina State, winning twice.
Carlos Del Moral, 25, Spain. Played on the same University of Oklahoma team as Anthony Kim. Two Challenge Tour wins this year. Took second card at Euro Q-School.
Lloyd Saltman, 25, Scotland. A two-time GB&I Walker Cup player. Won the silver medal as leading amateur in the 2005 Open Championship. Could this be the year he finally lives up to his potential?
Steven Tiley, 28, England. Former Georgia State player who caused a stir at St. Andrews with an opening 66 in the Open Championship. Winner of the 2009 Egyptian Open. Got the second-to-last card at Q-School.