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New Zealand Open dropped from European Tour

The combination of fewer European players making the trip and the introduction of a lucrative season-ending event in Dubai has led to the dropping of the New Zealand Open from the European Tour.

New Zealand Golf chief executive Bill MacGowan said on Wednesday that officials would now look to be sanctioned by the U.S. PGA’s secondary Nationwide Tour after Europe removed the Queenstown-based tournament from its 2009 calendar.

The event, won by Briton Richard Finch last December, had already been moved to March and MacGowan said the European Tour’s $20 million “Race to Dubai” had affected their ability to be involved in the tour.

“The European Tour offered us a couple of dates which weren’t satisfactory from our point of view,” MacGowan told the New Zealand Press Association (NZPA).

“We always knew we would have some problems with a European sanction when they introduced their Race to Dubai but it came a little bit earlier than expected.

“We are not disappointed with our exclusion from the European Tour and there will be no great effect on the NZ Open.”

MacGowan added organisers had been disappointed by the lack of European players venturing to New Zealand for the tournament, despite it being co-sanctioned by the Australasian and European Tours.

He said the European PGA had only offered to co-sanction the tournament for one further year, so NZ Golf had decided to seek a long-term agreement with the Nationwide Tour.

“We have taken the position we would rather negotiate with the Nationwide Tour for a longer-term deal and get some security and surety going forward for the NZ Open.”

The NZPGA championship, which will be held from March 5-8 next year, is already co-sanctioned by the Nationwide Tour and MacGowan suggested the NZ Open could be played the following week.


October 8, 2008

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