The British Open and the 10 Biggest International Golf Tournaments
The British Open stands as the unquestioned crown jewel of international golf tournaments. The game continues to grow on the international level seemingly every year. High profile events are played in the Middle East and Asia as well as Europe. The European Tour has grown stronger and also has more events outside of Europe.
Appearance fees have allowed for some international events to garner strong fields. The PGA Tour does not officially allow for appearance fees. This has caused events in Dubai and Malaysia for example to attract big name players. Other events offer a large number of world ranking points and have a strong tradition, such as the BMW PGA Championship.
Here are the top 10 biggest international golf tournaments.
10. Barclays Scottish Open
The Scottish Open was moved this year to the Castle Stuart Golf Links in Inverness. Previously it had been held at Loch Lomond Golf Club since the mid 1990's. The change was provoked by the desire to have the event at a links style course. The tournament is held the week prior to the British Open and officials figured a links course would attract more top players. The timing of this event coincides with many American golfers crossing the pond, so you see big names such as Phil Mickelson in the event regularly.
9. CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia
A new tournament, but one with a very interesting format. The top 25 in the Fed Ex Cup standings play with the top 10 of the Asian Tour along with 5 sponsors exemptions. The tournament is held at the Mines Resort in Selangor, Malaysia and has no cut. Ben Crane won the inaugural tournament in 2010.
8. Hong Kong Open
This Tournament has much more tradition behind it. Winners include Tom Watson, Greg Norman and Bernhard Langer. Held in November, the 2010 Tournament was won by Ian Poulter. Other big names in the tournament included Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.
The European Tour has co-sanctioned the event since 2001. The tournament itself dates back over 50 years to 1959.
7. Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
This pro-am event is very similar to the PGA Tour's Pebble Beach event. Three rounds are played on three different courses; St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarn. A 54 hole cut is made and then the final round is played at St. Andrews. Played in October, past winners have included Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington.
6. Barclays Singapore Open
With a big sponsor in Barclays, the Singapore Open has become one of the richest events on the European Tour with a total purse of $6,000,000. This is quite a turnaround from the early 2000's when the event was cancelled because it lacked a sponsor. Adam Scott won the 2010 tournament, held in November. Phil Mickelson was another PGA tour regular that appeared in the field.
5. Dubai Desert Classic
The Dubai Desert Classic was the first European Tour event held in the Middle East. It has an illustrious list of past champions. Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Fred Couples and Seve Ballesteros have all won. The tournament takes place at the Emirates Golf Club in February. The 2010 edition featured the grouping of Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods, who were the top three ranked players in the world at the time.
4. WGC-HSBC Champions
The tournament held in Shanghai China is the only WGC event that takes place outside of the United States. The current host is Sheshan Golf Club and the tournament takes place in November. Phil Mickelson has won the event twice and the current champion is Francesco Molinari. Tiger Woods has finished runner-up twice in the event.
3. Dubai World Championship
The final event of the European Tour season is Race to Dubai. The purse for this event is a staggering $7,500,000. It is only two years old, but it can be compared to the PGA Tour's season ending Tour Championship. It is comprised of the top 60 players in the Race to Dubai standings. Held at the Juremiah Golf Estates in Dubai, the past two winners are Robert Karlsson and Lee Westwood.
2. BMW PGA Championship
The BMW PGA Championship is considered to be the flagship event of the European Tour. It is held at Wentworth Golf Club, which is the headquarters of the European Tour, in May. The 2010 tournament featured a playoff between Luke Donald and Lee Westwood with the top ranking in the world on the line. Donald prevailed on the Ernie Els redesigned course and has not relinquished the spot.
Wentworth has held the event every year since 1984. Royal St. George has held the event five times prior to Wentworth becoming the sole host. Arnold Palmer, Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie are some of the notable winners of this event.
1. The British Open
Shouldn't be much debate over this one. The Open is by far the oldest major, first being contested in 1860. Many players, especially outside of the United States, consider it to be the biggest tournament in all of golf. Darren Clarke won the 2011 edition held at Royal St. George's.