Brooks Koepka drops European Tour membership, aiding Ben Evans
By Doug Ferguson
Ben Evans did all he could to try to secure his European Tour card for next year when he closed with a 66-65 weekend and tied for 11th at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
The Englishman needed a little help, and it came from an unlikely source: Brooks Koepka.
Evans narrowly missed his card by finishing 111th on the European Tour money list. His big break came when Koepka chose to give up his European membership. That removed him from the money list, and moved Evans up one spot.
Koepka will not defend his title this week in the Turkish Airlines Open and is not playing the HSBC Champions next week in Shanghai. He will be short of the required 13 events, and he informed the tour he would no longer be a member.
It was the second straight week that an American came to the rescue of a European. Rich Beem agreed to give up his invitation in the Hong Kong Open to Ian Poulter, who otherwise would not have met the minimum requirement and been ineligible for the Ryder Cup next year.
Koepka's decision figures to help one other player on the Race to Dubai. For the moment, Stephen Gallacher moved to No. 60, though the field of 60 players for the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai won't be determined until after the BMW Masters, the third event in The Final Series.
Beyond the help, Koepka's decision reflects the difficulty of maintaining cards on two tours.
His manager, Blake Smith at Hambric Sports, said one reason Koepka chose not to defend in Turkey was a change in the schedule. The Turkish Airlines Open typically is the third event in The Final Series. It switched spots with the BMW Masters to avoid a conflict with the G20 Summit in Antalya that week.
Koepka likes playing the Frys.com Open, which gave him an exemption that ultimately paved his way toward getting a PGA Tour card, and Las Vegas. To go to Turkey and the HSBC Champions would have been four straight weeks going halfway around the world after what already has been a long year.
Koepka has played 13 of the last 16 weeks dating to the Scottish Open, including the Dunhill Links in Scotland between the Tour Championship and the Frys.com Open.
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