Cyprus Open Preview, Picks & Analysis
THE European Tour heads to Cyprus for the first of two tournaments to be played at the magnificent Aphrodite Hills Resort near Paphos. We kick off with the Cyprus Open and follow it next week with the Cyprus Classic. There are worse places to be than this stunning island in the Mediterranean. Even in late October, temperatures are likely to still be touching 30C, with wall-to-wall sunshine all but guaranteed.
The tournaments will, of course, be played without spectators and will be subject to the European Tour’s comprehensive health strategy and based on Cypriot government guidelines.
The back-to-back tournaments, promoted by International Sports Management (ISM), also continue the European Tour’s strategy of staging consecutive tournaments in geographical clusters wherever possible to reduce the onus on international travel.
Ben Cowen, the European Tour’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer International, said: “We are pleased to be able to announce these new tournaments as part of our 2020 International Schedule, which will continue to give valuable playing opportunities to our members. We are grateful to Aphrodite Hills Resort and ISM for their support in staging two consecutive tournaments as part of our first trip to Cyprus, and we look forward to showcasing the country to our global television audience.”
Andrew Chandler, chief executive officer of ISM, said: “We’re delighted to be able to put on the Cyprus Open and the Cyprus Classic. It’s been a turbulent year for golf but that brings opportunity, and this will be an exciting couple of weeks. We have a long and successful history of promoting tournaments. ISM prides itself on taking golf to new places and we’re looking forward to seeing the European Tour break new ground once again in Cyprus.
"Aphrodite Hills will be a great venue and I’m sure the tournaments will be a huge success and will hopefully become a part of the European Tour schedule for many years to come.”
This raises an interesting point. The pandemic has forced the European Tour into coming up with a radical new schedule that has seen tournaments being played at a host of courses that either haven’t ever hosted European Tour events or have not done so for years. And, without exception, these venues have been a huge successes. The likes of The Belfry, Hanbury Manor, Fairmont St Andrews and Aphrodite Hills are superb layouts but, sadly, if things get back on track next year we are unlikely to see them being used again - and that is a real shame.
ISM has a long history of holding tournaments. It was responsible for every aspect of the British Masters for six years to 2008 and pioneered the eight-man Turkish Airlines World Golf Final in 2012, which featured four of the top five players in the world including Tiger Woods, before setting up the Turkish Airlines Open, which ran for seven years from 2013.
The Cheshire-based management company also promoted Challenge Tour events at the Worsley Marriott and in Northern Ireland, held the Ladies British Masters at Mottram Hall and hosted the Seniors Matchplay and a Seniors tournament at Half Moon in Jamaica.
Andrew Darker, Director of Golf at Aphrodite Hills, said: “Hosting these two consecutive tournaments clearly turns our country’s vision into reality, to become the favourite European destination for sport and much, much more. It seems that the future of Cyprus is already here. Golf in Cyprus is growing on an upward scale as all of us join forces to promote our top-class facilities and the year-round excellent weather.
“What an honour to have all these distinguished players at Aphrodite Hills Resort and the sense of security offered by our Government in the face of the Covid-19 crisis is one of the major factors in helping us achieve our vision. The PGA National Cyprus Golf Course is a must play course in the region and we are proud and privileged of the opportunity to host such a renowned, world-class golf event.”
England’s Andy Sullivan is likely to start the week as favourite. After a long spell in the doldrums he returned to the winners’ circle in sensational fashion during the summer and has continued to show some great form. His biggest rival will probably be Pablo Larrazabal, a Spaniard who is always at his best with the sun on his back.
After the second event in Cyprus, we head to Augusta for The Masters. That is followed by two events in South Africa before the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. And what happens after that is anybody’s guess. The European Tour has yet to announce its schedule for 2020-21, which is in stark contrast to the PGA Tour, where 50 tournaments are being crammed into a packed season.
This is, of course, all down to Covid-19 and the huge uncertainty it has caused. Sponsors have run for the hills. They have more important things to consider than sponsoring golf tournaments, with tens of thousands of jobs having been lost across Europe.
Andy Sullivan. Good to be back
Paul Waring. Underrated
Pablo Larrazabal. Loves playing in the sun
Andy Sullivan. Don’t be surprised to see him win again
Paul Waring. Shown some half-decent form of late
Pablo Larrazabal. Capable of some really low scores
Joost Luiten. Desperately looking for some form
Thorbjorn Olesen. Still finding his way back
Haotong Li. A class act
Robert MacIntyre. Has struggled since the restart
Romain Langasque. Impressive Frenchman
Sam Horsfield. Just ask Ian Poulter how good this kid is
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