The new global golf strategy for Volvo will extend, by a further three years, the partnership to a minimum of 20 years, enhance the commitment to Tour competition and end the title sponsorship of The PGA Championship.
The Volvo Masters Andalucia, which was launched in 1988 after Volvo became the first overall corporate sponsor to the European Tour, and the Volvo China Open, to be played for the first time on the European Tour international schedule, have both been contracted through to the end of 2007.
The 2004 Volvo PGA Championship, which coincidentally marks the 50th Anniversary of the Championship in addition to being the 1000th Official counting tournament in the history of The European Tour, will close Volvo’s title sponsorship of this event.
Ken Schofield, the executive director of The European Tour, confirmed that the PGA Championship would continue in 2005 with a new title-sponsor. “The legacy left by Volvo meets with the principle that we should all leave anything in life better than we found it, ” he said.
Mel Pyatt, president and CEO of Volvo Event Management, explained, “First and foremost it is important to stress that professional golf and the partnership with the European Tour remains fundamental to Volvo’s future strategy in Europe and in the Far East. The decision to end the title sponsorship of the PGA Championship was taken following a year-long review of Volvo’s global golf strategy which identified the business benefits of increasing investment in Asia, and particularly in China, while maintaining a strong and healthy relationship with golf at every level in Europe.
“We were charged by the numerous Volvo companies around the world to channel our energies into a new challenge, and the Volvo Masters Andalucia provides the perfect competitive vehicle on which we can further develop a major new global amateur tournament. In the first place the Volvo Masters Andalucia maintains a very strong position for Volvo in the European domestic market, where we have supported events in Britain, Germany, Italy and Sweden, and secondly it will play a central part in Volvo’s new and strategic golfing programme.
“The Volvo PGA Championship has been a cornerstone of our strategy for 17 years, and in that time it has surpassed all our expectations in terms of creating brand awareness, delivering media coverage and fulfilling our many business objectives in the United Kingdom and worldwide. It is a championship that we know will continue to grow in importance and prestige.
“Now we look forward to continuing to work with the European Tour with whom, through Ken (Schofield) and George (O‘Grady) and all their members of staff, we have developed a vibrant partnership which both the Volvo Group and Volvo Car Corporation emphasise is important to their future business. We are now looking forward to a fabulous championship this week and would obviously like to take this opportunity to thank Julian Small and all the staff at Wentworth Club for being impeccable hosts and friends for the last 17 years.”
Hugh Reid, managing director, Volvo Car UK Ltd, said, “For the last 17 years we have enjoyed the thrill, challenge, and commercial benefits that title sponsorship of such an important and prestigious property as the Volvo PGA Championship brings, but we are equally excited about the continuing partnership with The European Tour and fully behind the new golf strategy. We began to increase our amateur activities last year, with the introduction of initiatives such as the Volvo Golf Club, and this year will see the addition of the Volvo Masters Amateur programme.”
The 17th edition of the Volvo Masters Andalucia will be played at Valderrama, Sotogrande, on 28-31 October with a minimum prize fund of €3,750,000 (£2,518,671). The first Volvo China Open to be jointly sanctioned by the European Tour and the Asian Tour will take place at Shanghai Silport Golf Club on 25-28 November 2004. The US$1,000,000 tournament will be the first counting event on the 2005 Volvo Order of Merit. The first Volvo China Open was staged at Beijing International Golf Club in 1995.
The first PGA Championship was held in 1955 at Pannal Golf Club in Harrogate. The 50th edition this week will mark the 21st consecutive year and the 24th time in all that Wentworth Club has hosted the event. Previous title sponsors included Schweppes, Viyella, Penfold, Colgate, Sun Alliance and Whyte & Mackay. European Tour www.europeantour.com