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Tour News (posted 9th October 1998)

Prize money boost for European Tour

St Andrews, Scotland - The 1999 European Tour will offer prize money of more than 30 million after the addition of three world championship events, tour executive director Ken Schofield announced on Friday.

The three events are the expanded Andersen Consulting Match Play Championship in California in February, the NEC Invitational in Ohio in August and the WGC Stroke Play Championship at Valderrama, Spain, in November.

Each of the world tour events will offer prize money of 3 million ($4.8 million) to be added to the figure of 24.125 million  from 32 ranking events in 1998.

That extra 9 million will be official money on the European and U.S. Tours and there are likely to be increases in existing prize money at regular events.

The Anderson Consulting event at La Costa, California, which will no longer have regional qualifying, will have a field of 64, the NEC Invitational at the Firestone course in Akron will be for Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup players and the WGC Stroke Play for a field of 64 drawn from the various tours.

The Volvo Masters at Montecastillo late next October will not decide the title of European number one, as it has for 11 seasons. Instead, the leading 20 will be in the field for the WGC Stroke Play a week later, when the title will be decided.

That will also apply to the U.S. Tour, where the number one player for the year will not be decided until the WGC event instead of at the Tour Championship a week earlier.

The 1999 European Tour will begin with the South African PGA in Johannesburg on January 14-17. The Johnnie Walker Classic, which has led off the season in recent years, will in 1999 be held in November and will be the first event in the 2000 tour.

There are at present two blank weeks on the Tour calendar, before and after the U.S. Masters in April. But Schofield said a new event, the Estoril Open, in Portugal may be confirmed next week and the Cannes Open could fill the week after the Masters.