In the wake of Europe’s Ryder Cup celebrations, the European Tour suffered a hit on Wednesday when its longest-running tournament sponsor announced it will not back two events on the tour in 2015.
Swedish automaker Volvo will withdraw its support of the World Match Play Championship and an early season gathering of tournament winners known this year as the Volvo Golf Champions. Volvo will continue to sponsor the tour’s Volvo China Open, however, thereby extending its quarter-century run of sponsoring at least one tournament on the circuit.
Still, Volvo’s retrenchment hurts. The World Match Play, which will mark its 50th anniversary next week with a return to England after a seven-year absence from that country, is a venerable event with a list of winners that includes Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Seve Ballesteros and Ernie Els, who won it a record seven times. Recognizing its significance, the tour and IMG, which promotes the event, have committed to stage it next year and are in talks with potential title sponsors, said Guy Kinnings, IMG’s global head of golf.
Conversely, Volvo’s withdrawal has put the Champions event in jeopardy. An IMG-promoted tournament contested in South Africa the last three years, it had been expected to return there in January. “We might have to skip a year and bring it back in 2016,” Kinnings said.