The third edition of The Race to Dubai – the season-long competition for the world’s leading golfers – will launch from December 9-12 with the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa and include the new Volvo Tournament of Champions in the Kingdom of Bahrain. This brings to four with Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar the number of host countries in the Middle East on The European Tour International Schedule.
The initial sector of The 2011 European Tour International Schedule, announced today, will begin with four tournaments co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour in South Africa followed by the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the Volvo Tournament of Champions, the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The second Avantha Masters, co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour and the Professional Golf Tour of India, will be played in India ahead of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in the United States.
Since the first Dubai Desert Classic in 1989 a total of 40 tournaments have been played on The European Tour International Schedule in the Middle East. This takes in 21 Dubai Desert Classics (1989-2010), 13 Qatar Masters (1998-2010), five Abu Dhabi Golf Championships (2006-2010) and the inaugural Dubai World Championship played last November at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and which Lee Westwood won to secure Number One honours in 2009.
Volvo, one of the most prolific and longest serving supporters of world golf, has title sponsored 70 tournaments on The European Tour International Schedule and this number will increase with the announcement of the Volvo Tournament of Champions which follows the recent news that the Volvo World Match Play Championship will resume with a new date – May 19-22 – at Finca Cortesin Hotel Golf and Spa, Casares, Spain, in 2011.
The 2011 Volvo Tournament of Champions, to be played at the Royal Golf Club in the Kingdom of Bahrain from January 27-30, will have an initial prize fund of €1,700,000 with a field primarily comprising players who have won on The European Tour International Schedule. The inaugural Volvo Tournament of Champions, which has the full support of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, will have a field of up to 126 players with a halfway cut to the leading 60 and ties after 36 holes.
The Volvo Tournament of Champions is scheduled to be the first event on The European Tour International Schedule in both 2012 and 2013 when the prize fund will increase to a minimum of €2,000,000.
The 7243 yards, par 72 Montgomerie championship course, designed by European Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie with his associates at European Golf Design, offers a unique blend of links and desert golf by taking advantage of Bahrain’s natural rough desert terrain and combining it with vast man-made lakes. The rolling links-style fairways and undulating greens deliver an inspiring and demanding challenge.
George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “Volvo’s support of The European Tour has been invaluable to our development and we again thank them for maintaining this strong and powerful partnership. The Kingdom of Bahrain becomes the 38th country to host European Tour competition and our members will look forward to exhibiting their world class skills in this new arena. We would also congratulate International Management Group for continuing their important support of the Tour Membership by adding another tournament to those which they already stage on The European Tour International Schedule.”
Keith Waters, Chief Operation Officer of The European Tour, said: “We are particularly delighted to announce this strong and exciting initial sector of the schedule for 2011. This underlines The European Tour’s ethos to work with our partners around the world and to promote the game of golf globally. We thank all our colleagues at the Asian Tour, the PGTI and the Sunshine Tour, the promoters and sponsors for their superb support and we look forward to another exciting Race in 2011.”