Confident outlook for European Tour in 2014

European Tour officials believe they have weathered the global financial crisis after announcing their 2014 schedule will feature a minimum of 48 tournaments in 26 different destinations.

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The season begins next week with the 103rd South African Open in Johannesburg and ends 12 months later with the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, the culmination again of the four-event Final Series.

Rumours earlier this year that the PGA Tour had made a bid to buy the European Tour were swiftly denied and Keith Waters, chief operating officer and director of international policy, said on Sunday: "I am delighted with our 2014 schedule which perfectly showcases not only the renewed strength in depth of the European Tour, but also our influential global footprint.

"There is no question that we have come through a challenging period economically and for that we must thank the continued commitment and dedication of our tournament promoters and sponsors, not only in our home continent of Europe, but throughout the world.

"Their collective conviction in our brand has given us the confidence to drive the European Tour forwards with genuine optimism for the future, optimism which will see us continue to grow and positively develop the schedule into 2014 and beyond.

"We maintain superb relationships with fellow Tours and Federations and nowhere more so than in South Africa, where the first appearance of the Nedbank Golf Challenge on our schedule is one of eight tournaments in that country in the 2014 season.

"We thank everyone at the Sunshine Tour for their co-operation and we look forward to working with them, and all our business partners and colleagues across the world."

The schedule features two new tournaments in a row in August - in Denmark and the Czech Republic - while the Italian Open in Turin from August 28-31 is the last qualifying event for the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles in September.

The Volvo World Match Play Championship has moved back to its traditional autumn slot after three years in Spain and this year's event in Bulgaria, with a venue - strongly rumoured to be in the south east of England - yet to be announced.

The venues for the Irish Open, Spanish Open and Russian Open are among those yet to be confirmed.

Speaking at a press conference during the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, European Tour chief executive George O'Grady revealed that the Race to Dubai - which replaced the Order of Merit in 2009 - has been extended to the 2017 season.

The bonus pool shared between the top 10 players after the final event at Jumeirah Golf Estates has also been increased from 3.75million US dollars to 5million.

"I've said many times that this is the perfect venue to finish our year," O'Grady said. "The climate is excellent, the facilities here are superb and the welcome from everyone here in Dubai is simply outstanding."

O'Grady also announced a comprehensive review of the Final Series, which came in for criticism from the likes of Ernie Els for the rule stipulating that players had to compete in two of the first three events to be eligible for the season finale in Dubai.



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