Any other year and it’s a foregone conclusion; that is, to finish what was started. However, in 2020, nothing has been guaranteed, so it’s worth a moment to respect and admire that the European Tour joined many other organized sports that figured out a way to get a fair and acceptable season in the books despite being stripped of four months of competition due to the pandemic.
Just as impressively, when anyone reviews the history of the European Tour, it won’t look out of place that Lee Westwood emerged as the 2020 Race to Dubai champion. Sure, he’s 47 years of age, but it’s his third title (2000, 2009).
If anything, the adjustments to support and build a post-shutdown schedule were validated by Westwood clutching the trophy on Sunday in Dubai.
Not unlike the FedExCup, the Race to Dubai is determined almost wholly by success throughout a season. In fact, Westwood won “only” once, and that was in mid-January (in Abu Dhabi) in what was his first start of the season. In what was just his third top 10 (in 15 starts), Westwood was the runner-up at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
The top 20 in the final Race to Dubai standings earned exemptions into the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship. Of them, 15 hadn’t already qualified. That includes Sami Välimäki of Finland (11th), Rasmus Højgaard of Denmark (16th), Thomas Detry of Belgium (18th) and Laurie Canter of England (19th), each of whom never had qualified for any of the WGCs prior to Sunday.
Because Dubai’s strength-of-field rating as valued by the Official World Golf Ranking was 267, Westwood officially has qualified for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Since he’s a PGA TOUR member again this season, it’s more likely that he’ll accept the invitation to compete. For different reasons, he passed on the chance to peg it at TPC Southwind in 2019 and 2020.
As you’ll note in REMAINING QUALIFYING CRITERIA beneath the alphabetical list, many exemptions for multiple tournaments remain undetermined due to the ongoing adjustments globally, but the traditional Masters exemption for the top 50 in the OWGR at the end of a calendar year still applies.
UPDATE (Dec. 18): The R&A today released the field for The Open Championship on July 15-18.
Exemptions for all qualifiers for the 2020 edition that was canceled are honored, while adjustmentsnecessary due to the impact of the pandemic were made.
Because the shutdown occurred before the 2020 Open Qualifying Series concluded, none of the 2021 editions of the contributing events that were canceled or rescheduled in 2020 will be utilized.Instead, exemptions for the top 10 in the 2020 FedExCup and the top 10 in the 2020 Race to Dubai have helped fill the field. The R&A also extended Alex Noren’s exemption for winning the 2017 BMW PGA Championship another year.
The only previous automatic qualifier who isn’t an eligible former champion and isn’t listed below is 2019 U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree. He forfeited his exemption when he turned professional this fall.
REMAINING QUALIFYING CRITERIA for The Open has been updated below the alphabetical list.
NOTE: Golfers are omitted if they recently haven’t competed in majors for which they are eligible (e.g. PGA Championship=David Toms; The Open Championship=Justin Leonard).
TPC = THE PLAYERS Championship
MAS = Masters (Second edition of the 2020-21 PGA TOUR season)
PGA = PGA Championship
US = U.S. Open (Second edition of the 2020-21 PGA TOUR season)
OPEN = The Open Championship
MEX = WGC-Mexico Championship
MP = WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
SJI = WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational
TPC — none
MAS — none
PGA — none
US — none
OPEN — 109 golfers as recognized below
MEX — Christiaan Bezuidenhout; Laurie Canter; Paul Casey; Thomas Detry; Matthew Fitzpatrick; Tommy Fleetwood; Lucas Herbert; Rasmus Højgaard; Louis Oosthuizen; Victor Perez; Aaron Rai; Andy Sullivan; Sami Välimäki; Erik van Rooyen; Lee Westwood
MP — none
SJI — Matthew Fitzpatrick