Golf in 2016: Key dates in another busy year of action
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 07/01/16 6:35pm
As a new golfing year gets underway with more live golf that ever before on Sky Sports, we look at the key dates of when and where to find the best action over the next 12 months.
January: Some of Europe's Ryder Cup hopefuls get a taste of team action when Darren Clarke leads a side to take on Asia in the EurAsia Cup (January 15-17), looking to improve on their 10-10 draw from two years ago.
The Desert Swing then kicks-off with a high-profile field at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship from January 21-24, when world No 3 Rory McIlroy makes a first appearance of the year and Jordan Spieth features in the event for the first time.
February: The PGA Tour's trip to the West Coast includes the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (February 11-14), with Padraig Harrington's Honda Classic title defence taking place at the end of the month (February 25-28).
Elsewhere, the European Tour's spell in the Middle East reaches its conclusion at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic (February 4-7), at the the venue where McIlroy won his first professional title in 2009 and secured a three-shot win last season.
March: The opening two World Golf Championship events this year are separated by just three weeks, as the WGC-Dell Match Play has an earlier home in the calendar (March 23-27). The first of those, the WGC-Cadillac Championship (March 10-13), is being held at Trump Doral and is hosted by controversial US presidential candidate Donald Trump.
For those European Tour regulars not able to qualify for the WGC events, they face lengthy trips to play in the True Thailand Classic (March 10-13) and the Hero Indian Open (March 17-20) or face a very quiet month.
April: Eyes will be on McIlory as he has another chance to complete a career Grand Slam at the Masters (April 7-10), where a first Green Jacket may well help move him back top of the world rankings depending how well he, Spieth and Day perform ahead of Augusta.
Later in the month, Justin Rose returns to the site of his last PGA Tour win as he plays the Zurich Classic of New Orleans (April 28-May 1).
May: Although McIlroy is unlikely to repeat the schedule that saw him tee off five times in as many weeks during the same period last year, the four-time major champion will be at the K Club to host the Irish Open (May 19-22).
The BMW PGA Championship (May 26-29) will be the last on Wentworth's West Course before it undergoes renovation work, while the flagship event stateside will see Rickie Fowler aim to defend his Players Championship title (May 12-15).
June: After the controversy and mixed opinions about Chambers Bay last summer, the US Open (June 18-21) heads back to more traditional surroundings with a return to Oakmont.
With the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (June 30-Jul 3) no longer part of the European Tour's schedule, the leading European names will face a tough decision later that month about where to play. Who will head to the big-money event at Akron and who will play in the French Open, where extra ranking points for the Ryder Cup qualification list will be on offer?
July: A new-look schedule sees two majors squeezed in to a hectic month, with the PGA Championship (July 28-31) being held earlier than in previous years. Jason Day is the defending champion, just as he is the previous week at the RBC Canadian Open (July 21-24)
Before that, the Open Championship (July 14-17) is live on Sky Sports for the very first time, with McIlroy set to feature at Royal Troon after injury saw him miss St Andrews last time around.
August: Golf makes a long-awaited return to the Olympics (August 11-14), featuring in Rio for the first time since the 1904 games. The race to reach the Ryder Cup also hots up, with the Czech Masters (August 18-21) and the Made In Denmark (August 25-28) being the last two tournaments players can earn points towards an automatic qualification spot for Hazeltine.
If that wasn't enough, there's the small matter of the start of the FedExCup play-offs at the Barclays (August 25-28), where Day will look to replicate his stunning six-shot win last time around.
September: The PGA Tour season reaches its climax, with the number of players being whittled down from 100 at the Deutsche Bank Championship (September 2-5) and 70 at the BMW Championship (September 8-11) to 30 in time for Jordan Spieth's Tour Championship defence (September 22-25)
Over in Europe, Danny Willett is set to return to the Omega European Masters (September 1-4) following a narrow victory over Matt Fitzpatrick in Switzerland last summer, while the Italian Open (September 11-14) should attract a stronger field with double last year's prize money on offer.
October: Europe's bid for a fourth consecutive Ryder Cup victory takes place at Hazeltine (September 30-October 2), where captain Clarke's squad is likely to contain a number of rookies.
The British Masters supported by Sky Sports (October 13-16) is once again on the calendar, Luke Donaldo is the host for the event which is being held at the Grove in 2016 after its successful return at Woburn, before the regular European Tour season closes in China at the HSBC Champions (October 27-30)
November: All three events in a new-look Finals Series on the European Tour take place in successive weeks, with the Turkish Airlines Open (November 10-13) followed by a second trip of the season to the Gary Player CC for another Nedbank Golf Challenge (November 17-20).
With higher prize money up for grabs than ever before, the season-finale once again heads to Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship (November 24-27), where McIlroy could end the year as European No 1 for the fourth time in five years.
Don't miss any of the 2016 action on Sky Sports 4 - your home of golf.