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Chinese event to start 2007 European Tour season

A return to China for the second staging of the $5 million Champions Tournament will herald the start of the 2007 European Tour.

The early schedule for the 2007 season, announced by the tour on its official Web site on Monday, features the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai again hosting the Champions Tournament from Nov. 9-12, 2006.

Briton David Howell triumphed at the same venue last year after holding off world number one Tiger Woods in the inaugural event co-sanctioned by the European, Asian and Sunshine tours and the PGA Tour of Australasia.

"We are delighted to announce this strong and exciting early schedule for the beginning of the 2007 season, which continues to emphasise the tour's ethos to work with our partners around the world and promote the game of golf globally," said Keith Waters, the European Tour's director of international policy.

The first co-sanctioned event of the season with the Asian Tour will be the Hong Kong Open from Nov. 16-19, the tournament that provided Colin Montgomerie with his 30th European Tour title last December.

The circuit then moves Down Under for two co-sanctioned competitions with the PGA Tour of Australasia, the New Zealand Open at the Gulf Harbour Country Club in Auckland (Nov. 23-26) and the MasterCard Masters at the Huntingdale Golf Club in Melbourne (Nov. 30-Dec. 3).

The New Zealand Open makes a return to the European Tour schedule 18 months after Sweden's Niclas Fasth beat Miles Tunnicliff of Britain in a playoff for the 2005 title.

The MasterCard Masters, a feature on the Australasian circuit since 1979, becomes part of the European Tour for the first time.

Completing the first part of the 2007 schedule is a two-week stretch in South Africa.

The Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, Mpumalanga from Dec. 7-10 and the South African Open at the Humewood Golf Club in Port Elizabeth from Dec. 14-17 will be co-sanctioned events with the Sunshine Tour.

South African Ernie Els won last year's Dunhill event and was narrowly prevented from picking up a double success when fellow countryman Retief Goosen pipped him for the title at the South African Open.

March 27, 2006


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