Keith Waters, the chief operating officer and director of international policy at golf’s European Tour, has predicted that the 2015 calendar will comprise a “full schedule of events” despite car manufacturer Volvo having confirmed that it will scale back its sponsorship support.
Volvo announced recently that it would only sponsor the China Open in 2015, whereas for more than a quarter of a century it has supported a range of tournaments on the European Tour, including this week’s World Match Play event and the Golf Champions event in South Africa. The European Tour expects the first section of the 2015 schedule to be disclosed on Tuesday, with the remainder of the schedule announced in November.
“Other people may see it as a blow to the tour but we look at it a different way in that anyone who has supported the tour for 26 years is tremendous for us,” Waters told the Reuters news agency. “We know companies can't carry on forever and to be fair to Volvo they are increasing their involvement in the China Open. It might not be great for events in Europe but they will continue their commitment to the China Open.”
Waters added: “It wasn't a huge shock when they announced they were pulling out. They had indicated they were going to make changes and we would have preferred a bit more time ahead of the Golf Champions event in January but no one is complaining. We expect a full schedule of events next year, there may be one week that is not filled, and it is probably going to be a fuller schedule than in previous years.”
Waters also said that two British events that are falling off the schedule next year – the Wales Open and the Johnnie Walker Championship in Scotland – are likely to be replaced. “We have been working hard to replace events in the UK and in mainland Europe and I think we are going to have some success when we announce the full schedule in November,” he said. “We've already announced that the European Open is coming back, in Germany in September.”
He added: “There are a lot of positive things around and hopefully by November people will see that tournaments like the Wales Open and Johnnie Walker Championship will be replaced by other events. The global economic crisis five or six years ago was a hammer blow for the tour, it was a worrying time… but we've come through that and we are adding new sponsors and new events. I'm quietly confident things are on the up.”