The English Open, a tournament steeped in rich history and tradition, will return to The European Tour International Schedule from 2009 for a minimum of five years at the St Mellion International Resort in Cornwall.
Severiano Ballesteros won the inaugural English Open in 1979 and the event quickly developed a strong sense of national identity. Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam, also both winners of Major Championships, Colin Montgomerie - winner of a record eight Order of Merit titles - and more recently, Ryder Cup stars Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, have all triumphed in the event.
Clarke won the last English Open to be played in 2002, capturing a record third win in four years. In 2009, the 21st edition will unfold after a seven year break on the spectacular Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at the St Mellion International Resort, which is currently being extensively remodelled.
St Mellion is not new to The European Tour International Schedule – the Benson and Hedges International Open (seven times) and The Players’ Championship of Europe (twice) have been played at the venue – but in 2009 the players will face a revised challenge in considerably revamped surroundings.
Crown Golf, the UK’s largest golf course owner/operator, counts the St Mellion International Resort as the most prestigious venue among its 33-strong group of golf clubs. The operator recently announced a £100 million redevelopment plan at St Mellion, including a new 80-bedroom, four star-standard hotel, 265 golf homes and refurbished resort facilities in addition to the work already in progress on the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course.
John Weir, Chief Operating Officer of Crown Golf, said: “We are extremely excited at securing this long-term contract to bring European Tour golf to our flagship venue and are delighted to be able to make the news public. We look forward to confirming the exact date of The European Tour’s return to the St Mellion International Resort when the 2009 schedule is finalised.
“High visibility professional tournament golf is vital to our plans and The English Open is a famous title which befits our iconic Cornish venue. Our brand new landmark hotel will provide outstanding accommodation at the event and the superb Jack Nicklaus Signature Course will have an improved irrigation system plus tees, greens and bunkers all enhanced to meet the standards demanded by The European Tour.”
George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “St Mellion is a familiar name to our Members and The English Open has a tradition of producing great champions – Seve Ballesteros won the first edition in 1979 just two weeks before he captured The Open Championship.
“We believe it is the ideal partnership to bring the St Mellion International Resort and The English Open together and we are delighted to be returning to this wonderful part of the English countryside with the opportunity of providing a major tourism initiative to further enhance Cornwall’s profile as a beautiful, high quality destination.
“We look forward to Cornwall, Devon and the South West region as a whole welcoming Tour competition back to the area and we congratulate Crown Golf on their re-development of the St Mellion International Resort where we look forward to staging an English Open that will give golf fans top entertainment.”