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Golf News: - Posted 21st October 1997

Amex pull the card out of WPGET

London - The Women Professional Golfers' European Tour was in turmoil today with the news that American Express is pulling out of its sponsorship of the tour.

The credit-card company has revealed it will end its association that started with the Tour in 1995, worth an estimated 4 million, at the end of the season. The final event for 1997, the Air France Madame Open, takes place this week in Deauville, France.

The news severely threatens the future of professional women's golf in Europe and is another blow to add to the decision made in August by the WPGET chairman and chief executive Terry Coates to resign.

The concern now is at the WPGET headquarters in Tythrington, Cheshire that other sponsors could follow suit and Laura Davies said it could send out the wrong signals to other prospective sponsors.

She admitted "I've no idea why they have taken this decision, but obviously it's disappointing. "I hope it doesn't send out a negative message to other sponsors now they have heard that American Express are pulling out."

"I wouldn't class us as the poor relations of the men's game, but we do seem to have trouble attracting the major sponsors, which is incredible when you consider we have top-quality world stars producing the right results."

The problem facing the WPG European Tour is that these top quality stars have practically abandoned their own tour this year to play in America.

Out of the top ten in the Order of Merit Helen Affredsson (1) has played six events, Alison Nicholas (2) eight events, Annika Sorenstam (4) three events, Laura Davies (5) six events, Lisa Hackney (7) five events and Charlotta Sorenstam (8) just four events.

Only Alison Nicholas, the US Open Champion, of these will play in the final event in Deauville and she is the only one to offer to play in the WPG European Tour team against the Seniors PGA team in Portugal for the inaugural Praia D'El Rey European Cup. The others have elected to play in Japan rather than support a new sponsor coming into the Women's tour for the first time.