O'Grady optimistic over Tour future

You may have to travel a long way to see Europe's golf stars in action this year, but Tour chief executive George O'Grady's upbeat.

 GeorgeO'Grady, Ken Schofield; European Tour Golfe

The circuit gets going again on Thursday with the 33-man Volvo Champions in Durban before spending three weeks in the Middle East and then two more in South Africa before most of the big names head to America.

"We have a lot of great tournaments on our schedule in 2013 and we have certain periods of the year where we have groups of tournaments on our tour that are as strong as any in the world," O'Grady said.

Something new for this season is a "Final Series" of four huge money events in China, Turkey and Dubai in October and November.

"It is our job to make those tournaments even better and to keep raising the bar of the European Tour," O'Grady added during a television interview.

"Money is one factor in tournaments being a success, but if you look at the strongest parts of our international schedule the money is already very strong.

"So, in terms of our top events, I think we are now trying to focus on running the tournaments exceptionally well.

"We have had a very challenging five-year period, but part of the reason we have managed to retain a lot of our biggest sponsors is the fact that the European Tour is a tremendous product for someone looking to spend their sponsorship or touristic dollars.

"Through our television platforms in key markets, as well as making our events as good as they can possibly be, we bring visibility and credibility.

"We have had great success in many countries as a result of that. Wales is a great example where the return on their investment has come in the form of companies moving to Wales and bringing important revenues to the country.

"In Ireland, Scotland and Portugal the golfing tourism numbers are growing again.

"You see that in a lot of the countries we visit across the world and I think it shows that if you can get the structure right then we can face the future with optimism."

Of last September's Ryder Cup side only Paul Lawrie and Francesco Molinari have not taken up membership of the PGA Tour in the States, but most will be involved in at least some of the upcoming "Desert Swing" and this week's event can also boast a strong field.

In addition to Lawrie and Molinari there are the last three Open champions in Ernie Els, Darren Clarke and Louis Oosthuizen, Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey, Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts and Europe's last two cup captains Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie.

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