Connor Syme set to suffer from European Tour category reset for 2021

Connor Syme is facing a delayed start to his 2021 European Tour campaign despite making it all the way to the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai last year.

Connor Syme, pictured during playing in the South African Open in December, is not in the field for next week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images.
Connor Syme, pictured during playing in the South African Open in December, is not in the field for next week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images.

Helped by seven top-10 finishes, the 25-year-old finished a career-best 65th in the Race to Dubai, making him the third top Scot after 2020 winners Bob MacIntyre (23rd) and Marc Warren (48th).

But, as had been informed to players, those standings have effectively been declared null and void at the start of the 2021 campaign due to last season being so badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.Starting with next week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships, fields are being determined by 2020 categories, which means that Syme is 13th on the list among the 2019 Challenge Tour graduates.

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That means he is currently well down the list of reserves for the $8 million Rolex Series event in the UAE, which is set to be headlined by Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas.

Syme, who qualified for the US Open at Winged Foot last September through his performances in a UK Swing, is even further below the current cut-off mark for the following week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Though it almost certainly isn’t going to help him for Abu Dhabi, the Drumoig-based player will be hoping he can benefit at some point from “exceptional” performances in 2020 being rewarded.

A maximum of three spots will be held back in each tournament this season to exempt the highest-ranked players from the final 2020 Race to Dubai Rankings not otherwise exempt.

Eight Scots are currently in the Abu Dhabi line up, namely MacIntyre, Warren, Stephen Gallacher, David Law, Richie Ramsay, Scott Jamieson, David Drysdale and Grant Forrest, with Calum Hill sitting as second reserve.

Only MacIntyre, two-time winner Gallacher, Law, Ramsay, Jamieson, Forrest and Ryan Lumsden are guaranteed to be playing in Dubai, the latter having secured one of the national spots through the MENA Tour.

Warren’s win in the Austrian Open last July earned him Category 13, which is for winners of events below Euros 1 million. He is currently 11th reserve, two spots above Hill.

The entry list for the third event of the new season, the Saudi International, has still to be published on the European Tour website.

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