The DP World Tour hits European shores: Summer highlights to come and players to watch out for

This week’s ISPS Handa Championship in Spain marks the start of the heart of the season, one that includes a huge high in July.

A week after celebrating its 50th anniversary the DP World Tour returns to European shores for the first time since it was renamed.

It is, of course, a long time since the circuit was truly a European Tour, but the continent remains its home base.

Between now and the end of October - with a few excursions across the Atlantic - it will remain on the continent before travelling to China and South Africa ahead of the Race to Dubai conclusion at Jumeirah.

Let's take a look at the highlights to come and the players to keep an eye on.

The seasonal highlights

The 150th Open

A big anniversary, delayed by 12 months, at the Home of Golf, on the sport's most revered stage.

Oh, and Tiger Woods will be there.

It will be massive.

Also

The newly co-sanctioned Scottish Open - a stronger field and a purer linksland fortnight. The BMW PGA Championship - easily every season's second most anticipated event. There are also two new co-sanctioned PGA Tour events to contemplate (in the US) and a pair of celebrity-backed tournaments in August (Gareth Bale in Wales and Niall Horan in Northern Ireland).

Europeans who can thrive at the Open

Rory McIlroy - he's still played an Open at the Home of Golf just once, when third in 2010 shooting rounds of 63-80-69-68. He has another four top three finishes on The Old Course at the Dunhill Links Championship. Breaking the eight year Major drought at St Andrews - too neat?!

Shane Lowry - winner of the Claret Jug in 2019 on the island of Ireland, T12th on his defence last year and a self-confessed lover of The Old Course. Fourth there last year in the Dunhill Links.

Tommy Fleetwood - an 11-time starter at St Andrews, nine of those visits reaping top 25 finishes, half a dozen of them tied seventh or better. The only missed cut however? In the 2015 Open.

Tyrrell Hatton - his first four appearances at the Home of Golf were all abbreviated (including the 2010 and 2015 Opens), but since then he has been electric: five starts, twice a winner, twice second, never outside the top 15.

Jon Rahm - his debut at the Dunhill Links in 2019 saw him head home early, carding a 73 on The Old Course, but he's a two-time winner on the linksland in the Irish Open.

Can the comebacks maintain?

Richard Bland - the Englishman will defend his British Masters title in May at the Belfry. His victory there was his first in his 478th tour start, two years after also becoming the oldest Challenge Tour graduate. He's celebrated with a further nine top 10s and a share of the halfway lead in the US Open. What more will he achieve before hitting the senior ranks?

Thomas Pieters - a double winner in 2015, a winner again in 2016, a star on his Ryder Cup debut the same year, and fourth on his Masters debut in 2017. He did add another victory in 2019, but in truth progress had stalled. Wins either side of New Year suggested he was back and he might need a return to Europe because he's not made a top 20 since January.

Pablo Larrazabal - the Spaniard has always known how to win, but lost his way after a fifth success in late 2019. He plays on homesoil this week following four top sixes in his last five starts, including victory in South Africa.

Kristoffer Broberg - a winner of the BMW Masters in 2015, he then didn't land one top 10 until he triumphed in last September's Dutch Open. Very talented, very fickle.

Andrea Pavan - making five cuts in seven seasonal starts, with a best of T18th, doesn't sound like an amazing reversal, but it is for the Italian who made just five cuts in 35 before that start of this season, with not one top 30.

Nations on the rise

The Danes have never had it so good. Not only are the 21-year-old twins Rasmus and Nicolai Hojgaard prolific winners (five between them since late 2019), but JB Hansen and Jeff Winther have joined them in lifting trophies and Marcus Hellingkilde might soon follow suit.

The Scots are on fire, possibly fuelled by all the investment and advice of the veterans Paul Lawrie and Steven Gallacher. Since late 2020 Robert MacIntyre, Grant Forrest, Calum Hill and Ewen Ferguson have made winning breakthroughs. Craig Howie and Connor Syme are primed to join them.

And Poland is a rising force in the sport. Earlier this month Mateusz Gradecki became the second Polish winner on the Challenge Tour, after Adrian Meronk who has amassed 10 top 10s on the DP World Tour since graduating from the second tier, including five top threes.

Can they find the first win?

Thomas Detry - no less than 10 top three finishes and the Belgian is still after the first win. He came closest in his last brush, when sharing the lead after 36, 54 and 72 holes at the 2021 Scottish Open, before being bested by Min Woo Lee in extra time.

Matthew Southgate - over €4million earned on the course since a top five in the 2016 Irish Open vaulted him onto the DP World Tour, but the win hasn't come (and only another four top fives). Only two men, Ben Hebert and David Drysdale, are higher in the career money list without a win.

Mathieu Pavon - five top three finishes for the Frenchman who still hunts for the first win in his sixth successive year on the first tier.

Matti Schmid - just 19 starts on the main tour for the German youngster since turning pro last year and he's ended the second or third round in the top five in six of them.

Matthew Jordan - lots of nearly-men Matthews (one way or another) in this list and the last is the Royal Liverpool member who led early in the final round of the Qatar Masters in march and will be hoping to seal the deal soon.

READ MORE: Hojgaard twins looking for another win as the DP World Tour returns to Europe

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