The PGA EuroPro Tour has announced that the 2022 season will be its last, citing shifts in economic landscape, rising costs and a change in audience appetite for its decision.
The news has come as a shock to the golfing world. Afterall, Europe's third-tier circuit held an important place in the ecosystem for over two decades. Each year, the PGA EuroPro Tour awarded Challenge Tour cards to the top-five finishers on the Order of Merit, alongside unrivalled and vital experience of life on tour, playing in front of television cameras and learning to handle media obligations.
It comes as little surprise that many of its alumni have gone on to compete and achieve great success at the highest level of the game, including Major championship titles, countless victories on the DP World and PGA Tour and representing the European and International Teams in the Ryder and Presidents Cup.
Here we take a look at ten of the biggest names to have featured on the PGA EuroPro Tour:
1. Tommy Fleetwood
The Englishman played on the PGA EuroPro Tour in 2011 and took advantage of home knowledge in the Formby Classic, where rounds of 67, 68 and 65 secured a four-shot victory.
The following month, Fleetwood earned his first Challenge Tour victory and graduated to the DP World Tour, where he secured his maiden title at the 2013 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
The 31-year-old has since amassed five DP World Tour victories and has twice represented Team Europe in the Ryder Cup - forming a formidable partnership with Francesco Molinari as the duo became the first pairing to win all four matches in Paris in 2018.
2. Tyrrell Hatton
Hatton was PGA EuroPro Tour Rookie of the Year in 2012, courtesy of victories at the Your Golf Travel Classic and Final Qualifying School.
The Englishman would go on to graduate to the Challenge Tour and subsequently the DP World Tour, where he earned his first victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at the Home of Golf.
He has since added the flagship BMW PGA Championship, three other Rolex Series events and the PGA Tour's Arnold Palmer Invitational to an ever-increasing resume that includes ten professional victories and two Ryder Cup appearances.
3. Louis Oosthuizen
Louis Oosthuizen became the first PGA EuroPro Tour alumni to win a Major title when he ran away from the field at the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews.
Prior to that, the South African played on the circuit in 2002 and 2003 with his best finish being a T3 at the Marriott St Pierre in Chepstow in Wales.
The 39-year-old credits the PGA EuroPro Tour for preparing him for a career in professional golf, which has included 14 victories to date: "There is no doubt that the experience I gained on the PGA EuroPro Tour at the start of the century stood me in good stead for what awaited me on the European Tour and the golf world in general," he said.
4. Charl Schwartzel
Schwartzel followed in the footsteps of his countryman, Oosthuizen, and became the second PGA EuroPro Tour alumni to taste Major success at the 2011 Masters.
The South African featured in the circuit's inaugural year and, at the age of 18, became the second youngest South African golfer to earn a European Tour card after Dale Hayes.
The 38-year-old has notched 16 professional wins in his global career, including the LIV Golf Series curtain-raiser at Centurion Club earlier this year.
5. Nicolas Colsaerts
The Belgian Bomber featured on the PGA EuroPro Tour in both 2002 and 2008 before earning regular playing rights on the DP World Tour.
The 39-year-old has since amassed 10 professional victories, including three DP World Tour titles. The biggest victory in his career came at the 2012 Volvo Match Play Championship, when he defeated US Open champion Graeme McDowell in the final.
His performance in Spain caught the eye of Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal, who awarded the Belgian with a pick into the 2012 tournament. Colsaerts managed just a single point, but it came at the expense of Tiger Woods and Steve Sticker when he and Lee Westwood defeated the American pair on the final hole of Friday's fourball.
6. Aaron Rai
Rai played on the PGA EuroPro Tour in 2014 and 2015, where he won the Glenfarclas Open, finished fifth in the Order of Merit and secured a place on the Challenge Tour.
The 27-year-old went on to notch three Challenge Tour titles in the 2017 season and earn automatic promotion to the DP World Tour. The Englishman didn't have to wait long for his first title on the main stage when he defeated recently-crowned US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick in the 2018 Honma Hong Kong Open.
Rai has since claimed the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open, a DP World Tour Rolex Series event, as well as a PGA Tour card via the Korn Ferry Finals. He will be a prominent feature throughout 2023 in the United States.
7. Ross Fisher
Ross Fisher featured on the PGA EuroPro Tour back in 2005 before elevating his status on the Challenge Tour and securing DP World Tour playing rights via its Order of Merit.
The Englishman showed the golfing world his capabilities with victory at the 2007 KLM Open and backed it up with a dominant seven shot demolition of Spaniard Sergio Garcia at the 2008 European Open - the largest winning margin across his five professional victories.
Fisher contended in each of the four Majors in the 2009 season. So much so, he held the lowest cumulative score across players that made the cut in each of the four events. This led to automatic qualification for the 2010 Ryder Cup, where he and Padraig Harrington combined for two points in a narrowly fought victory for Europe at Celtic Manor.
8. Robert Rock
Robert Rock joined the DP World Tour in 2003 as an affiliate member but enjoyed PGA EuroPro Tour events across 2002, 2003 and 2005.
Although winless on the development circuit, the Englishman's career breakthrough came in 2009 with three second-place finishes on the DP World Tour - including the memorable scenes at the Irish Open where amateur Shane Lowry won on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff in torrential rain.
The Englishman tamed both Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods at the 2012 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, a victory that propelled him to a career-high 55 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
9. Branden Grace
Branden Grace turned professional in 2007 and became a fixture on the PGA EuroPro Tour, before turning to the Sunshine Tour and Challenge Tour and earning playing rights on Europe's mainstage - the DP World Tour - via Qualifying School.
It proved to be a breakthrough year in 2012, with four DP World Tour victories in a ten month span. The South African has gone on to notch 15 professional victories, including nine on the DP World Tour and twice on the PGA Tour.
At the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, the 34-year-old became the first male player to shoot 62 in a Major championship.
10. Eddie Pepperell
Eddie Pepperell was a feature on the PGA EuroPro Tour in 2011 and 2012 but raced through the ranks to the DP World Tour courtesy of a victory on the Challenge Tour when playing on an invitation.
The Englishman continued to retain his card but his true breakthrough came on his 129th DP World Tour start with victory at the 2018 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. This was followed by victory in the British Masters at Walton Heath just a few months after.
The 31-year-old came agonisingly close at the PGA Tour's flagship Players Championship in 2019, finishing just two shots adrift of Rory McIlroy.
Other Notable PGA EuroPro Tour Alumni
- Marcus Armitage
- Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston
- Thomas Aiken
- Lee Slattery
- Jamie Donaldson
- Bradley Dredge
- Marc Warren
- Richard Finch
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James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.
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