Golf: Tour detours to take in safari

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The Independent Online
THE Volvo European Tour continues to expand its horizons and the crew of the enterprise will travel even further afield next year. The outline schedule for 1993 will take the Tour through all 12 months of the year and to parts of the world beyond the realms of the EC.

The campaign begins earlier than ever, on 14 January, with the Madeira Island Open and finishes just before Christmas with the Johnnie Walker World Championship. In 1975, when Ken Schofield became the Tour's first executive director, the schedule was restricted to 17 tournaments between April and October and the total amount of prize money on offer was pounds 500,000. In 18 years the number of events has more than doubled and the money to play for has gone past the pounds 20m mark.

There are several blank spaces on the new itinerary, including the dates of 21-24 January. It is understood the players will make a detour to South Africa that week. Mount Edgecombe in Durban is the likely venue for a tournament that would be co-sanctioned with the South African Professional Golfers' Association. Andy McFee, the European Tour's senior tournament director, has visited Mount Edgecombe where the course has been upgraded.

South Africa's Sunshine Tour is backed by the First National Bank and a third of their sponsorship, 2m rand (about pounds 360,000), will go towards the event in Durban. 'It would be by far the biggest event we have put on and would provide a tremendous boost for our players and the public,' Brent Chalmers, executive director of the SA PGA, said. An announcement confirming the Durban venture should have been made in England last week but was postponed.

The minimum number of tournaments players have to appear in to retain membership of the European Tour has been increased from nine to 11. 'The increase in events and the greater competition for membership makes it necessary to keep our regulations under constant review,' Schofield said. The difference might also help to avoid a repetition of the scene at the recent Murphy's English Open where not one of the so-called Super Six appeared.

Another change is that anybody who finishes in the top 10 of a regular event automatically qualifies for inclusion the following week. This would give more opportunities, for example, to somebody like Jim Payne. Payne's 34th place at the qualifying school has limited his appearances despite the fact he finished joint third in the Benson and Hedges International and the Lancome Trophy.

Prize money for the Open Championship at Royal St George's next July will pass pounds 1m for the first time. The champion will receive pounds 100,000 compared with Nick Faldo's pounds 95,000 at Muirfield and any player who lasts four rounds will receive a minimum of pounds 3,500. Previous Open winners at Royal St George's were Sandy Lyle in 1985 (pounds 65,000), Bill Rogers in 1981 (pounds 25,000), Bobby Locke in 1949 (pounds 300) and J H Taylor in 1894 (pounds 30).


January: 14-17 Madeira Island Open; 28-31 Dubal Desert Classic, Dubai. February: 4-7 Johnnie Walker Classic, Singapore; 11-14 Turespana Tenerife Open; 18-21 Moroccan Open; 25-28 Turespana Masters. March: 4-7 Mediterranean Open; 11-14 Turespana Balearic Open; 18-21 Portuguese Open; 25-28 ProServ-Tour Italy; April: 1-4 Lyon Open; 15-18 Rome Masters; 22-25 Catalan Open; 29-May 2 Credit Lyonnais Cannes Open; 29-May 2 Alfred Dunhill Cup qualifying. May: 6-9 Benson and Hedges International Open; 13-16 Peugeot Spanish Open; 20-23 Lancia Martini Italian Open; 28-31 Volvo PGA championship. June: 3-6 Dunhill British Masters; 10-13 Carrolls Irish Open; 17-20 Jersey European Airways Open; 24-27 Peugeot French Open; 30-July 3 Monte Carlo Open. July: 7-10 Bell's Scottish Open; 15-18 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, Royal St George's; 22-25 Heineken Dutch Open; 29-August 1 Scandinavian Masters. August: 5-8 BMW International Open; 12-15 Austrian Open; 19-22 Murphy's English Open; 26-29 Volvo German Open. September: 2-5 Canon European Masters; 9-12 GA European Open; 16-19 Lancome Trophy; 24-26 RYDER CUP, The Belfry; 30-October 3 Mercedes German Masters. October: 7-10 Piaget Open; 14-17 Alfred Dunhill Cup; 14-17 Honda Open; 21-24 Toyota World Match Play championship; 28-31 Iberia Madrid Open. November: 4-7 Volvo Masters; 11-14 Philip Morris World Cup; December: 16-19 Johnnie Walker World Championship.