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Denmark to host first European Tour event

Denmark will host its first golf tournament on the European Tour next year, recognition of the sport's advance in the country that produced four winners in 2002.

The Nordic Open, with prize money of 1.6 million euros ($1.6 million), will take place at Simon's Golf Club near Copenhagen from Aug. 7-10.

Thomas Bjorn, who played in the Ryder Cup victory over the U.S. in September and won the BMW Open the same month, has helped raise the sport's profile in Denmark. Compatriots Steen Tinning, Soren Hansen and Anders Hansen also won events this year. Only Sweden, with five, had more champions on the tour.

``Denmark has developed into a thriving golfing environment over the past few years,'' Ken Schofield, the European Tour's executive director, said in a statement. ``This tournament will further enhance the eminent status of Nordic golf.''

Since 1990, the number of courses has more than doubled to 135 and the sport has become the third-most popular pastime for Danes over 25. About 106,000 Danes are members of golf clubs.

Bjorn, and Soren and Anders Hansen have promised to play the Nordic Open even though it comes a week before the PGA Championship -- the year's final major.

The European Tour declined to say whether it is replacing an existing event.

``There were gaps in the schedule so it may just be an additional tournament,'' said spokesman Rod Williams. The full calendar will be published next week.

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