Hero MotoCorp Ltd, the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters for the past 16 consecutive years, has reaffirmed its commitment to innovation on the European Tour by extending the ‘Hero Challenge’ by another three years and to three marquee events.
The exciting night-golf event made its debut at last year’s British Masters supported by Sky Sports, when the stars of the European Tour battled it out on a sudden-death shoot-out hole under floodlights and in front of 3,000 fans.
Frenchman Alex Levy overcame Sweden’s Alex Noren in the final of what was the first in a series of new and innovative formats introduced by the European Tour in the past 12 months and, following on from that initial success, the format is now set to expand.
The Hero Challenge will mark its return this year with three editions, firstly at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Dundonald before returning to the British Masters supported by Sky Sports at Close House and then finishing at the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.
Pawan Munjal, Chairman, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Hero MotoCorp, and one of India’s most foremost corporate leaders, attended the European Tour’s annual dinner during Masters week in Augusta National a fortnight ago to address the world’s media about the plans, ahead of today’s official announcement.
Mr Munjal said, “We all recognize that Golf needs a lot more of innovation to attract a younger and newer generation of fans and the Hero Challenge is an initiative in that direction. As a partner of the European Tour, we introduced the ‘Hero Challenge’ at the British Masters last year, which proved to be an immense success. That success has encouraged us to extend and expand our partnership with the European Tour by another three years to multiple events. While we continue our association with the British Masters supported by Sky Sports, we have also decided to add the Hero Challenge at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. We have been fortunate to get the support of all the top professionals, and some icons from other fields as well, who also understand the need to popularize the sport.”
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive Officer of the European Tour, said: “We are delighted that Hero MotoCorp, through the vision and commitment of Pawan Munjal, have shown such incredible support not only for the European Tour, but for our desire to bring the game of golf to new audiences through innovation.
“We firmly believe in the direction we are taking and it is clear that Hero share that belief. The inaugural Hero Challenge was a terrific success at the British Masters last year and led the way in terms of innovative concepts for ourselves at the European Tour.
“We very much look forward to three Hero Challenges this year which will greatly enhance three already special weeks on our schedule and I am sure that the golf fans in Scotland, England and Dubai will thoroughly enjoy watching their favourite stars in action in this exciting format.”
One of the stars already committed to playing is former World Number One and Ryder Cup legend Lee Westwood, who will compete in the Hero Challenge during the British Masters supported by Sky Sports at the end of September, the event where he is taking on the role of tournament host this year.
“I watched last year’s Hero Challenge at The Grove and it looked a lot of fun so I was delighted to put my name forward for this year’s event at Close House,” said the 23-time European Tour champion.
“It is always good to try something different and something like the Hero Challenge, which also encourages kids and younger people to get into our sport should be encouraged. Remember golf, like any sport, should be fun and entertaining and the Hero Challenge definitely ticks both of those boxes.”
As well as enhancing its reputation for innovation, today’s announcement also further strengthens Hero MotoCorp’s support for the European Tour where it has sponsored the co-sanctioned Hero Indian Open with the Asian Tour since 2005.
Since its inception in 1984, Hero MotoCorp has sold over 70 million motorcycles and scooters cumulatively. It currently manufactures and sells around 6.6 million motorcycles and scooters on average annually across 35 countries in Asia, Africa and South and Central America.
Mr Munjal himself is a keen sports enthusiast, and it is thanks to his own personal commitment that Hero MotoCorp has been associated with sport for over two decades. A keen golfer, Mr Munjal is the Past Chairman of the Asian Tour Board of Directors and a Past President of Professional Golfers Association of India (PGAI).
European Tour players Anirban Lahiri and Shiv Kapur, as well as Asian Tour player Daniel Chopra, are Hero brand ambassadors while 14-time Major winner Tiger Woods is Global Corporate Partner of Hero. Hero MotoCorp is also the Title Sponsor of the Hero World Challenge – a PGA-sanctioned Tiger Woods Invitational event.
As well as backing the Hero Indian Open, Hero has supported the Women’s Indian Open since 2010, while it has also sponsored India’s domestic women’s professional tour.