Omega European Masters looks for summer date to improve field quality

Rory McIlroy
Getty Images
Rory McIlroy is an Omega ambassador, but doesn't play the Omega European Masters because it falls in the middle of the FedexCup playoffs.
By
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series: European Tour

Published: Tuesday, September 03, 2013 | 6:27 p.m.

NORTON, Mass. – The tournament that kicked off the Ryder Cup points table used to attract a strong field on the European Tour, or at least the field was stronger than usual every other year. But at the Wales Open last week, the only player at Celtic Manor who played on the previous team was Francesco Molinari. He missed the cut. 

The field featured recent Ryder Cup players Miguel Angel Jimenez and Darren Clarke. European Captain Paul McGinley hit the opening shot to commemorate the occasion. He tied for eighth. 

It's a product of so many European players having PGA Tour membership and playing in America this time of the year during the FedExCup playoffs. Eight players from the winning 2012 team were at the TPC Boston for the Deutsche Bank Championship. 

For years, the Omega European Masters in Switzerland used to be first event in the qualifying process. That tournament is this week, and even though the PGA Tour has no tournament, Omega is not expecting many top players. That's why the title sponsor is looking for a new date away from the FedExCup. 

"We're now working very strongly with the European Tour to get the date changed," Omega president Stephen Urquhart said in a recent interview. "Let's face it. Where we are now in September, right in the middle of the FedExCup, doesn't work." 

The plan is to move to July for 2015, one week after the British Open. 

Rory McIlroy has an endorsement deal with Omega, but he won't be going to Switzerland during his off week, and Omega is fine with that. 

"Rory told me he loves Crans-sur-Sierre and he is an Omega ambassador," Urquhart said. "But I can't ask him to give up the potential of winning $10 million to come over for one week."