The European Tour will visit Denmark for the first time in more than a decade next year when the inaugural Made in Denmark is held at Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort from August 14-17.
The tournament will be played at the North Jutland venue from 2014-2016 and will carry a prize fund of €1.5million, with €270,000 on offer to the winner.
Ian Poulter was triumphant the only previous time The European Tour has staged a tournament on Danish soil, the Englishman beating Colin Montgomerie by a single stroke after shooting a round of 66 on the final day of the 2003 Nordic Open, held in the capital city Copenhagen.
Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort, in Farsø, is northern Europe’s largest golf resort, comprising two 18 hole courses, a nine hole course and extensive practice facilities in the NIKE Performance Centre.
The stunning 7,382 yards (6,751 metres), par 72 Backtee New Course, which will be used for the tournament, re-opened at the start of the year after a €2million renovation programme which included the re-laying of all 18 greens and the re-shaping of every bunker.
Prior to the recent redesign, which was carried out by Dane Philip Christian Spogárd of Spogárd and VanderVaart, Backtee New Course was also the scene of Thomas Björn’s first professional victory, in the 1995 Himmerland Open – one of 27 European Challenge Tour events played on Danish soil.
Björn beat Anssi Kankkonen and Nicolas Vanhootegem in a play-off, and he would register three more victories that season to kick-start an illustrious career which has so far yielded a total of 13 European Tour titles.
Björn said: “It’s fantastic news for the Tour and the country that we’re having a new tournament in Denmark next year. I think Himmerland will be a perfect venue, and I hope the Danish golf fans will come along and support the tournament in good numbers. With Thorbjørn [Olesen] playing so well and a lot good young amateurs coming through the ranks, it’s a good time for Danish golf and having a European Tour event in Denmark can only help grow the game even more.
“My first win as a professional was the Himmerland Open on the Challenge Tour in 1995, so in many ways that’s where it all began for me. I remember winning in the play-off and it was a great feeling to get my first professional victory, especially as it was in my home country. It would be lovely to win at home again on the main Tour almost 20 years later, but most of all I hope that the tournament is a great success – and I’m sure it will be.”
Lars Larsen, co-founder of the tournament and owner of Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort, said: “This dream opportunity has now become a reality. Made in Denmark will focus partly on Danish golf, but also focus on Denmark as a golfing destination. By working with a number of sponsors, Sport Event Denmark and other organisations across the North Jutland region, we will ensure that Danish design and innovation are both integral to the event marketing.”
George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “We’re delighted to be back in Denmark after a ten-year absence. With the current strength in depth of Danish golf, now is the perfect time to announce a new tournament here.
“As Thomas Björn has been long been the flag-bearer for Danish golf and a tremendous ambassador for The European Tour, it is perhaps only appropriate that we return to the scene of his first victory as a professional.
Himmerland looks magnificent after its recent renovation, and I have no doubt our Members will enjoy testing themselves here next August.”
Claus Birk Larsen, CEO of Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort, said: “On behalf of all of Northern Jutland, I’m obviously thrilled that we have managed to bring The European Tour to Denmark, as it is a huge coup for Denmark in general and the region in particular. We very much look forward to welcoming our sponsors, partners, players and spectators to the new Himmerland, which I dare say can offer everyone a unique experience – both on and off the golf course.”
Lars Lundov, Director of Sport Event Denmark, said: “Made in Denmark complements our impressive event list for 2014, as Denmark also hosts the European Men’s Handball Championship, the World Badminton Championships and the World Half Marathon Championships.
“With golf joining the Olympics in 2016, we will now have even more focus on the sport. Along with the team behind Made in Denmark, we will therefore also ensure that there will be side activities at the tournament to encourage Danes and visitors to get into golf.”
The main sponsors of the tournament, which will be promoted by Flemming Astrup of GolfPromote, are: Nordea, ECCO, Willis, SAP, Mercedes-Benz, Einer Hessel, Hilding Anders, Freja Transport, JYSK and Garia.