BMW PGA Championship kicks off 2018 Rolex Series

The 2018 Rolex Series kicks off on Thursday with the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

The tournament is the first of eight world-class events which make up the series, running through to the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in November.

The Rolex Series events will feature many of the biggest names in golf battling for the enhanced prize money – this week’s BMW PGA Championship offers a prize fund of $7m – and Race to Dubai points.

Sweden’s Alex Noren won last year’s BMW PGA Championship – the first Rolex Series event – after coming from seven shots behind in the final round thanks to a 10-under 62 which featured a stunning eagle at the 18th hole.

The second Rolex Series event this year is the Italian Open at Gardagolf CC in Brescia next week.

The tournament was played at a different venue – the Golf Club Milano – last year and it was also staged in mid-October when Tyrrell Hatton prevailed by a shot to follow up his win in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship the previous week.

Le Golf National in Paris, the venue for this year’s Ryder Cup, hosts the third Rolex Series event this year – the HNA Open de France.

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Tommy Fleetwood took a giant stride towards clinching the Race to Dubai title when he captured the first prize by one shot in last season’s tournament.

The Open de France, which starts on June 28, marks the start of a three-week run of Rolex Series events as it is followed by the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation, which gets underway at Ballyliffin GC in County Donegal on July 5.

The Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open then takes place the following week at Gullane GC in East Lothian.

The latter two tournaments featured Spanish winners last year, with Jon Rahm romping to a six-shot victory in the Irish Open at Portstewart, and Rafa Cabrera Bello denying Callum Shinkwin his moment of glory by winning a play-off for the Scottish Open title at Dundonald Links.

The Rolex Series takes a break after this stretch of tournaments until the final three events of the season in November.

The Turkish Airlines Open at the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort in Antalya takes place from November 1-4 and is the last of the events that carries a prize fund of $7m.

Justin Rose triumphed at the same venue last year and kept the pressure on Fleetwood in the Race to Dubai battle as he edged out Dylan Frittelli and Nicolas Colsaerts by one shot.

The leading players will then head to South Africa the following week for the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player at the Gary Player CC in Sun City, offering a prize fund of $7.5m.

Branden Grace claimed a home victory at Sun City last year, pipping Scott Jamieson by a shot thanks to a closing 66.

The DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, featuring a prize fund of $8m, once again brings down the curtain on the Rolex Series and the season.

Rahm became the first man to win two Rolex Series events when he prevailed by one shot at the same venue last year.