The PGA Seniors Championship, one of the most prestigious tournaments on the European Seniors Tour, will boast a returning title sponsor, a new venue and a substantially increased prize fund for its 52nd staging in 2008.
The returning sponsor is De Vere who agreed a three-year deal with The Professional Golfers‘ Association, hence renewing their association with the Championship having previously sponsored the event from 1996 to 2005.
The 2008 PGA Seniors Championship will be staged on the Dave Thomas-designed Hunting Course at Slaley Hall in Northumberland, from August 21-24, marking a return for the European Seniors Tour to the course which held the Northern Electric Seniors tournament from 1992 to 1996.
It also further strengthens Slaley Hall’s links with the European Seniors Tour with the Hexham venue’s other course – the Neil Coles-designed Priestman Course – having played host to the De Vere Northumberland Seniors Classic from 2001 to 2005.
The 2008 edition of the tournament – the longest running in the history of the European Seniors Tour – will also feature a record prize fund of £300,000, an impressive 50 per cent increase on the £200,000 played for in September when England’s Carl Mason triumphed.
PGA chief executive Sandy Jones welcomed the return of De Vere and the tournament venue. “The Association are absolutely delighted to renew their sponsorship acquaintance with De Vere,” he said.
“De Vere, in many ways, has had a long running relationship with the Association since moving to The Belfry in 1976, including previously sponsoring this championship for a decade. Now that the championship is moving to Slaley Hall it further enhances this event, which has a long history of great champions.”
“I am sure that golf fans in the north east of England will enjoy seeing so many great players, who have had life-long careers in the game. They will also be competing for record prize money of £300,000 with a top prize of £50,000 to the winner.”
De Vere’s golf and leisure director, Daniel Hodson said, “The PGA Seniors Championship forms a vital part of De Vere’s ongoing commitment to championing world-class golf throughout the UK. We‘re very pleased to host the Championship at Slaley Hall and look forward to showcasing the Hunting Course.”
Chief operating officer, Niels Sherry said, “De Vere is passionate about golf, and the new deal is part of a renewed investment across the group. Every one of the De Vere golf businesses has had significant investment in 2007 and this will continue in 2008.”
Slaley Hall was recently named Hotel of the Year at the 2007 North East England Tourism Awards, and the Hunting Course is sure to provide a golfing test of the highest order for the players who will compete in one of only two European-based 72-hole tournaments on the Seniors Tour.
The tournament attracts a field of 120 players, including the top 20 finishers from the PGA Senior Club Professional Championship, and has an illustrious list of past champions.
Included on the historic Roll of Honour are Open Championship winners Max Faulkner, Kel Nagle and Peter Thomson, six-time champion Christy O‘Connor, European Seniors Tour Chairman Neil Coles, and European Seniors Tour stalwarts Tommy Horton, Brian Huggett and Brian Waites who all, coincidentally, won the Northern Electric Seniors tournament on the Hunting Course in the 1990s.
Over the past four years the tournament has been won by the two men who have dominated the European Seniors Tour as a whole; three time Order of Merit winner Carl Mason triumphing in 2004 and 2007, while two time Order of Merit winner Sam Torrance prevailed in 2005 and 2006.