2014 Johnnie Walker championship at Gleneagles in doubt

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NEXT year’s Johnnie Walker Championship is likely to be the last chance for Ryder Cup hopefuls to play the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles before the match in 2104.

It follows doubt being cast about the European Tour event being held in two years’ time by tournament chairman Colin Montgomerie due to the logistics of the Ryder Cup.

“The Johnnie Walker Championship in 2013 is very important because there’s no ’14 event,” revealed Montgomerie, who was speaking ahead of a guest of honour appearance at the PGA in Scotland lunch in Glasgow. “There’s rumours that it might not be played at all because of the dates and finding another date for it.

“We’ve heard tales about the King’s and the Queen’s course [staging it] but, at the moment, I’m not sure completely what’s happening. I know it’s going on in 2015, which is great.”

Highlighting some of the logistical issues, he added: “There’s going to be a tented village on the practice range we use at the Johnnie Walker.

“The range for the Ryder Cup will be the first tee of the King’s hitting towards the first green there. So there’s going to be a lot of changes.

“The 18th green of King’s and the 18th of Queen’s are going to be used for putting and chipping as the [PGA Centenary] putting green is too close to the first tee due to the stands.”

Montgomerie reckons it is “very important” for players hoping to be on the European side in 2014 to play in next year’s Johnnie Walker Championship, won this year by Paul Lawrie.

Montgomerie pointed to Edoardo Molinari winning in Perthshire two years ago to secure one of the Scot’s wildcards and also Graeme McDowell tasting success at Celtic Manor ahead of the 2010 Ryder Cup.

“To win on that course, how do you leave that guy out?” he said. “You want them all there in 2013. Look at Graeme McDowell winning in Wales in 2010.”

Meanwhile, the eight-times European Tour No 1 believes it should be “mandatory” that Rory McIlroy plays in next year’s BMW PGA Championship in May. The world No 1 failed to make an appearance in London earlier this week to pick up his European Tour Player of the Year Award, fuelling fears that he may also skip the circuit’s flagship event in 2013.

“It’s vital that Rory plays in that – you have got to have him for the PGA Championship,” said Montgomerie. “We have to encourage our top players to come back [from America]. We are lucky Luke Donald will come back as he’s going for three in a row and I’m sure [Lee] Westwood will come back and support it. But the main guy is Rory McIlroy, especially if he goes and wins the Masters beforehand. It should be mandatory he is there.”