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French Open looking to double purse

Hard on the heels of the British Open Championship announcement of its £3.8 million prize money bonanza, the French Open revealed yesterday that it will soon soar into the upper echelons of European events.

The organisation of it has been taken over by Amoury Sports, the company that also runs cycling's Tour de France, who immediately claimed that they could double the present level of prize money, which stands at £1.25 million.

If they did the tournament would immediately become the richest event in Europe bar the British Open, ahead of the Volvo Masters and the Volvo PGA Championship, current flagships of the PGA European tour.

Patrice Clerc, chief executive of Amoury Sports, said yesterday: "The French Open has been a sleeping beauty and it needs waking up. We would like to establish it at the Paris National course and, like they do at Augusta National, keep on improving things every year."

The French Open is the oldest professional event in continental Europe and its list of former champions reads like a history of the game. Arnaud Massey, the first non-Briton to win the British Open, won the first French Open in 1906 and was followed by the likes of J H Taylor, James Braid, Walter Hagen, Henry Cotton, Bobby Locke, Byron Nelson, Seve Ballesteros, Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal.

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