European Tour unveils 2011 schedule, with 50 events around the world

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Series:

The 2011 European Tour schedule will feature 50 golf tournaments -- two more than this year -- with new events in Bahrain, Malaysia and Sicily.

The 2011 tour starts next month in South Africa and ends with the Dubai World Championship next December.

The European Tour said in a statement that from 2012, the schedule will be contained within the calendar year, starting in January and ending in December. The 2010 tour ends on Sunday.

Sicily will host a European Tour event at the Donnafugata Golf Resort in the south of the Italian island and Malaysia will host a second tournament, the Iskandar Johor Open, which has previously only been sanctioned by the Asian Tour.

The 2011 calendar starts with four consecutive tournaments in South Africa, immediately followed by four in the Arabian Gulf as part of a Desert Swing. It includes the Volvo Golf Champions event in Bahrain. The Sicilian tournament will be the first to be held in Europe, in late March.

The Scottish Open, traditionally the last event before the British Open, will not be held in the town of Loch Lomond as usual, and a course has yet to be found. A new links course near the town of Inverness, Castle Stuart Golf Links, is reported to be favorite to host the event in 2011.

The tour leaves Europe in November and heads to China for the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, followed by more Asian events in Singapore, Malaysia, China and Hong Kong.

“I think the new schedule … is in my own opinion, excellent,” said European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady. “It’s been quite complicated this year working it all through.”

O’Grady said he was especially happy with this week’s Dubai World Championship and he expected the season-ending event to remain in the emirate despite the city’s economic problems. O’Grady said the original five-year agreement has been condensed into a two-year deal that runs through 2011, “which if we secure a powerful sponsorship in that time, we anticipate going further.”

Developers have struggled to finish hundreds of villas that surround Jumeirah Golf Estates and organizers reduced the prize money 25 percent to $7.5 million even before the inaugural tournament last year.

“We have been looked at by Abu Dhabi, as well, but I think the intention is to try to keep it here in Dubai for as long as possible,” O’Grady said.

“We are rock solid for two years, and everybody has the drive to keep it going after that,” O’Grady said. “DP World, who are the presenting sponsor, are very excited by the tournament, and we give them some packages in other events around the world, which coincides with their market. And so I would be very confident this is here to stay.”

O’Grady also said he expects to see further growth in India and China and would like to see more tournaments on English soil, though he couldn’t say when that would happen.

“Ideally we would bring the British Masters back or the English Open would move forward, but these things tend to go in cycles,” he said. “We are very strong in Scotland … The Scottish Open is very strong. The new venue will be announced very shortly.”

O’Grady also said he expected a decision by early next year on the course for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, where organizers are discussing whether to upgrade an existing course or build a new one.

“There’s masses of people looking at it now,” he said. “They are looking at two existing golf courses and whether they can be brought up to the required standard. I would anticipate a decision on the venue early in the new year.”

Here is the 2010 European Tour schedule:

2010
Dec. 9-12
Alfred Dunhill Championship
Leopard Creek CC
Malelane, South Africa

Dec. 16-19
South African Open
Durban CC
Durban, South Africa

2011
Jan. 6-9
Africa Open
East London GC
East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Jan. 13-16
Joburg Open
Royal Johannesburg & Kensington GC
Johannesburg, South Africa

Jan. 20-23
Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship
Abu Dhabi GC
Abu Dhabi, UAE

Jan. 27-30
Volvo Golf Champions
The Royal Golf Club
Kingdom of Bahrain

Feb. 3-6
Commercialbank Qatar Masters
Doha GC
Doha, Qatar

Feb. 10-13
Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Emirates GC
Dubai, UAE

Feb. 17-20
Avantha Masters
DLF G&CC
New Delhi, India

Feb. 23-27
WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
Ritz-Carlton GC
Dove Mountain, Marana, Arizona, USA

Mar. 10-13 World Golf Championship
Doral Golf Resort & Spa
Doral, Florida, USA

Mar. 17-20
Sicilian Open
Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa
Sicily, Italy

Mar. 24-27
Andalucia Open
Parador de Malaga Golf
Málaga, Spain

Mar. 31-Apr. 3
Trophee Hassan II
Palais Royal and Golf de L'Ocean
Agadir, Morocco

Apr 7-10 Masters Tournament
Augusta National GC
Augusta, Georgia, USA

Apr. 14-17
Maybank Malaysian Open
TBA

Apr. 21-24
Volvo China Open
TBA

Apr. 28-May 1
Ballantine's Championship
Blackstone GC
Icheon, Seoul, South Korea

May 5-8
Spanish Open
TBA

May 12-15
Iberdrola Open
Pula GC
Son Servera, Mallorca, Spain

May 19-22
Volvo World Match Play Championship
Finca Cortesin
Casares, Andalucia, Spain

May 19-22
BPI Madeira Islands Open
Porto Santo Golfe
Madeira, Portugal

May 26-29
BMW PGA Championship
Wentworth Club
Surrey, England

June 2-5
Celtic Manor Wales Open
Celtic Manor Resort
Newport, Wales

June 9-12
BMW Italian Open
Royal Park I Roveri
Turin, Italy

June 16-19
U.S. Open
Congressional CC
Bethesda, Maryland, USA

June 16-19 Saint-Omer Open
Aa Saint Omer GC
Lumbres, France

June 23-26
BMW International Open
Golfclub Munchen Eichenried
Munich, Germany

June 30-July 3
Alstom French Open
Le Golf National
Paris, France

July 7-10
Barclays Scottish Open
TBA

July 14-17
Open Championship
Royal St. George's GC
Sandwich, Kent, England

July 21-24
Nordea Scandinavian Masters
Bro Hof Slott GC
Stockholm, Sweden

July 28-31
Irish Open
TBA

Aug. 4-7
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
Firestone CC
Akron, Ohio, USA

Aug. 11-14
PGA Championship
Atlanta Athletic Club
Johns Creek, Georgia, USA

Aug. 18-21
Czech Open
Prosper Golf Resort
Celadna, Czech Republic

Aug. 25-28
Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles
Gleneagles Hotel
Perthshire, Scotland

Sept. 1-4
Omega European Masters
Crans-sur-Sierre
Crans Montana, Switzerland

Sept. 8-11 KLM Open
Hilversumsche GC
Hilversum, The Netherlands

Sept. 15-18
Vivendi Trophy with Seve Ballesteros
Saint-Nom-la-Breteche
Paris, France

Sept. 22-25
Austrian Golf Open
Diamond CC
Atzenbrugg, Austria

Sept. 29-Oct. 2
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
Old Course, Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, Scotland
St. Andrews, Scotland

Oct. 6-9
Madrid Masters
TBA

Oct. 13-16
Portugal Masters
TBA

Oct. 20-23
Castello Masters
Costa Azahar Club de Campo del Mediterráneo
Castellon, Valencia, Spain

Oct. 27-30
Andalucia Masters
Venue TBA
Andalucia, Spain

Nov. 3-6
WGC-HSBC Champions
Shanghai, China

Nov. 10-13
Barclays Singapore Open
Sentosa GC
Singapore

Nov. 17-20
Iskandar Johor Open
TBA

Nov. 24-27
Omega Mission Hills World Cup
Mission Hills Resort
Hainan Island, Southern China

Dec. 1-4
UBS Hong Kong Open
Hong Kong GC
Hong Kong

Dec. 8-11
Dubai World Championship
Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE