The Omega European Masters will be co-sanctioned for the first time in 2009 following an historic agreement between The European Tour and the Asian Tour. The prestigious event, hosted by the spectacular Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club in Switzerland since 1939, will be the first tournament on European soil to be co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour.
Omega, a global supporter of sports where it was the Official Timekeeper at the Beijing Olympics, has title sponsored the tournament since 2001 and is also the title sponsor of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China.
Stephen Urquhart, president of OMEGA, is particularly looking forward to next year’s tournament, saying: “At OMEGA, we are excited about the emergence of golf as a truly global sport. We commend both the Asian and European Tours for following up on our initiative and implementing our proposal that the two tours join forces.”
OMEGA, as title sponsor of the China Tour and the Mission Hills World Cup of Golf, has long been a major presence in Asian golf . Urquhart knows that the participation by some of Asia’s leading players in the European Masters will add a special element to the competition.
“While this co-sanctioned tournament is important to OMEGA,” he added, “it has even greater significance for the world of golf. As the sport becomes increasingly popular in Asia, it’s the perfect time to be introducing the golfers playing there to the international stage.”
Among the field of 156 players will be 30 players from the Asian Tour. A further ten places in the field will be through Sponsor / Promoter invites with the balance of the field completed in accordance with The 2009 European Tour Exemption Category List.
Keith Waters, The European Tour’s Director of International Policy, said: “The Asian Tour and its Members have made a significant contribution to the development of the European Tour International Schedule over the last decade. The leading Asian Tour players have added to the quality, style and diversity of The European Tour.
“It is timely and appropriate for The European Tour to support Omega’s request to co-sanction this historic event. This arrangement extends Omega’s support of golf and The European Tour both in Europe and Asia. This event will create more opportunity for Asian Tour Members to develop their careers on the international stage and play the picturesque venue of Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.”
Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han hailed the groundbreaking announcement, saying it was a wonderful reflection of the growth of the Asian Tour which will stage a record 30 tournaments with nearly US$39 million in prize money this season.
Han expressed his appreciation to Omega and The European Tour for extending the invitation to the Asian Tour to be a part of the event.
“It is a terrific milestone for the Asian Tour,” said Han, who is attending this week’s Omega European Masters, which started on Thursday.
“Since 1999, the Asian Tour has worked closely with The European Tour through a successful co-sanction programme in Asia and our talented players have taken the opportunity to broaden their playing careers.
“With the Asian Tour scheduled to visit Europe for the first time in 2009, I believe it will pave the way for our Tour and playing members to enjoy greater achievements.
“Omega helped shape the growth of professional golf in Asia during the 1990s when it title sponsored the Asian Tour and is currently involved with great events including the Omega Mission Hills World Cup. We truly value Omega’s support.”
As a prelude to next year’s event, Omega invited several Asian Tour Members to compete in this week’s Omega European Masters, which is offering a €2 million prize fund.
India’s Gaurav Ghei and Digvijay Singh, Chinese duo Zhang Lian-wei and Li Chao, England’s Simon Griffiths and Australian Kane Webber have joined the likes of Singaporean Mardan Mamat and Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat and Thongchai Jaidee, who are in this week’s field through their playing rights in Europe.
The field for the tournament will be 156 players.
a) The leading 30 players from the Asian Tour will be taken as follows:-
- Asian Tour Order of Merit winners in the past five years
- Multiple tournament winners of official Asian Tour events in the past three years
- The most recent 20 winners available of official Asian Tour events preceding the tournament to be played
- Players finishing within the Top 65 of the previous year's official Asian Tour Order Of Merit
b) 10 Sponsor/Promoter invites
c) The balance of the field will be completed in accordance with The 2009 European Tour Exemption Category List (excluding Category 5)
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