European Tour deal boosts presence of Fiji International

Golf’s Fiji International tournament is set to be given a boost in prominence this year after a co-sanctioning agreement was reached between the PGA Tour of Australasia and the European Tour.

The agreement opens up the field for a wider range of top-level golfers to partake in the event, which this year will be staged at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course from October 6-9.

The broadcast reach of European Tour Productions, a joint venture between the European Tour and the IMG agency, will also provide the event with greater worldwide exposure. The European Tour said that this year’s event would be viewable in almost 400 million homes.

“Being part of the European Tour provides Fiji with an unprecedented level of exposure, and we will be able to reach markets where we do not have a presence,” Fiji’s Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said.

“Cyclone Winston has shown our vulnerability, therefore it is critical that we broaden our economic base and take up opportunities. We need to think outside the box. A couple of years ago, the Fijian Government saw the future and took the leap to host a PGA event that opened up a new segment of tourism.”

A minimum of 59 players from both the PGA Tour of Australasia and the European Tour will compete at this year’s event, while eight tournament invitations will also be added. A record number of six places will be reserved for Fijian players.

In addition, players from the China Golf Association and the Korean Golf Association will be invited, strengthening the relationship between the two bodies and the PGA of Australia, which oversees the PGA Tour of Australasia.

Brian Thorburn, chief executive of the PGA of Australia, added: “One of the key aims of the Fiji International is to showcase Fiji to the world as not only a beautiful island paradise, but also a golfing mecca.

“With the PGA Tour of Australasia joining forces with the European Tour this year, we will see the exposure of Fiji significantly increased whilst also securing a deeper pool of talent to compete for the title.”

The Fiji International first took place in 2014. Matt Kuchar of the US is the reigning champion.