O’Grady eyes optimistic future

1/8/2013 11:53:55 AM
George O'Grady welcomes Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald on the first tee  (Getty Images)
George O'Grady welcomes Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald on the first tee (Getty Images)

European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady is looking ahead to 2013 with a quiet sense of optimism as the first tournament of the calendar year – the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa – gets ready to reunite many of the Tour’s 2012 winners.

“We have a lot of great tournaments on our Schedule in 2013 and we have certain periods of the year where we have groups of tournaments on our Tour that are as strong as any in the world,” said O’Grady during a television interview at The European Tour’s Wentworth headquarters.

One of these will come at the end of the year with the new ‘Final Series’ where a new focus will be brought to the final four tournaments in The 2013 Race to Dubai, with the BMW Masters, the WGC – HSBC Champions and the Turkish Open building to the elite, 60-man DP World Tour Championship, Dubai – the series in total offering prize money of US$30.5 million.

“In the ‘Final Series’ we have some mighty good tournaments and it is our job to make those tournaments even better and to keep raising the bar of The European Tour,” he said.

“Money is one factor in tournaments being a success but if you look at the strongest parts of our International Schedule, the money is already very strong. So, in terms of our top events, I think we are now trying to focus on running the tournaments exceptionally well, which we have done for the past year.”

Golf has not been immune to the global economic downturn but The European Tour’s evolution in new territories and markets where the sport can flourish has helped, as has another very good reason; golf is value for money.

“We have had a very challenging five year period but part of the reason we have managed to retain a lot of our biggest sponsors is the fact that The European Tour is a tremendous product for someone looking to spend their sponsorship or touristic dollars,” added O’Grady.
“Through our television platforms in key markets, as well as making our events as good as they can possibly be, we bring visibility and credibility. We have had great success in many countries as a result of that. Wales is a great example where the return on their investment has come in the form of companies moving to Wales and bringing important revenues to the country. In Ireland, Scotland and Portugal the golfing tourism numbers are growing again.

“You see that in a lot of the countries we visit across the world and I think it shows that if you can get the structure right then we can face the future with optimism.”