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BMW become European Tour's biggest sponsor

The PGA Championship, the European Tour's flagship golf tournament, will offer record prize money of four million euros ($5.22 million) this year after BMW agreed a four-year sponsorship deal.

The 250,000-euro increase comes as part of a 16 million-euro deal for the tournament with the German car-makers who will also continue to sponsor three other events on the Tour; the BMW International Open and the Russian and Asian opens.

"It will be much more than about money, this thing," George O'Grady, the Tour's new executive director, told a news conference on Tuesday.

"This is our flagship event and BMW are the perfect match for us. When the previous sponsors (Volvo) announced the end of the agreement with us at last year's event, BMW would have been our ideal choice to take over."

The PGA Championship -- officially the BMW Championship from this year -- has been the Tour's leading event since it was formed in 1971 and has been played at Wentworth's West Course in southern England every year since 1984.

O'Grady said there were no plans to switch the venue for the duration of the sponsorship.

He said of the name change: "There will be no doubts from the branding that this is still the PGA Championship we are talking about."

The winner of this year's event, to be played from May 26 to 29, will pocket 666,600 euros, up from the 625,000 won last year by Briton Scott Drummond.

The deal makes BMW the biggest sponsor of the European Tour.


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