The European Open will return to England for the first time since 1994 when the 31st edition of the tournament takes place over the Jack Nicklaus-designed Heritage course at The London Golf Club in Kent from 3-6 July 2008.
Eight-time European Tour Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie of Scotland is set to defend his title when The London Golf Club becomes the seventh venue to host the European Open, following Walton Heath, Turnberry, Royal Liverpool, Sunningdale, East Sussex National and, for the past 13 years, The K Club in Co. Kildare, Ireland.
Situated close to Brands Hatch in north Kent and with two outstanding courses in The Heritage and The International, The London Golf Club first hosted the European Seniors Tour in 1995 when South African John Bland won the inaugural London Masters.
For the past three years, the Club’s owners, the Bendinat Group, have been title sponsors of the London Seniors Masters, won twice on the 6,434 yard par 72 Heritage layout by Scotland’s Sam Torrance (in 2005 and 2007) and once by Italy’s Giuseppe Cali in 2006.
American Bobby Wadkins won the first European Open at Walton Heath in Surrey in 1978. Since then, eight Major Champions have captured the prestigious titles, namely Michael Campbell, Nick Faldo, Retief Goosen, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam.
Montgomerie, who won his 31st European Tour title at The K Club in 2007, said, “I was delighted to be the last winner of the European Open at The K Club, after coming close there on a few occasions. That victory was very important in terms of my World Ranking. I am now looking forward to defending one of the most prestigious titles on The European Tour at The London Golf Club in July.
“It’s great that we have a London venue on the schedule. Having played there quite recently, I know that it will unquestionably provide a stern examination for my Tour colleagues and me, and we can all look forward to a wonderful week in Kent.”
Heath Harvey, general manager for The London Golf Club, said, “There was much speculation over where this event would go after its enormously successful run of 13 years at The K Club. To secure such a renowned tournament is testament to the Club’s aspiration to be recognised as one of Europe’s foremost golfing venues.
“A tournament of this magnitude will undoubtedly put Kent in the European golfing spotlight. We look forward to welcoming some of the world’s top professionals for what will surely be the county’s largest sporting event of the year.”
George O’Grady, chief executive of The European Tour, said, “The European Open has been a superb fixture on The European Tour International Schedule for the past three decades, and since 1995 we have witnessed 13 tremendous editions of the event at The K Club in Co. Kildare.
“However, we are delighted to return to the UK in 2008 and to an outstanding venue in The Heritage course at The London Golf Club, which carries the stamp of its designer, Jack Nicklaus. Our Members always enjoy visiting new locations, and The London Golf Club will provide an enjoyable and demanding examination in July.”