Europe announce early Tour schedule

The European Tour has announced the first part of their tournament schedule for the new season

With negotiations for some tournaments not yet completed, the European Tour has released a 2010 schedule that goes as far as next year’s Masters at Augusta in April.
The season will, as in the past few years, actually start this year with two events in South Africa before Christmas, the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek and the South African Open at Pearl Valley, both in early December.
Two new events for the circuit – the Africa Open in South Africa in January and the Hassan II Trophy in Morocco in March – both feature in the first sector.
Tour chief executive George O’Grady said: “We are delighted that, with the support of our partners in Dubai, we can confirm the way forward for the Race to Dubai (the new name for the Order of Merit) prior to the inaugural competition concluding in the United Arab Emirates next month.
“The Race to Dubai has brought a new dimension to our season and we are confident that, by continuing to globalise the game, it will grow in stature with the best golfers in the world being given the opportunity to compete in an exciting and dynamic season-long competition.”
After prize money for the coming Dubai World Championship was slashed by 25% there was some speculation that the economic crisis around the world in general and Dubai in particular might see another change.
But Hamza Mustafa, acting managing director of Dubai sponsors Nakheel Leisure, said: “We are committed and proud to take our partnership with the European Tour forward into the new season.
“The inaugural Race to Dubai has been a phenomenal success and I believe we are currently seeing the benefits of the new format with some impressive fields in the latter part of the season as players race to qualify for the Dubai World Championship.
“We have already received more than 56,000 registrations for free tickets to the event and have some exciting plans in store for spectators.”
Among the changes expected to be seen when the full schedule is released is a move for the Irish Open, both in date and location.
An announcement is set for this week that the event goes from mid-May – the weather was horrendous this year – to July 30-August 2 and from Baltray on the east coast to Killarney on the west.
Here isb the part of the European Tour schedule released today:

10-13 Alfred Dunhill Championship, Leopard Creek, Malelane, South Africa
17-20 South African Open Championship, Pearl Valley, Paarl, South Africa

7-10 Africa Open, East London GC, South Africa
14-17 Joburg Open, Royal Johannesburg and Kensington, South Africa
21-24 Abu Dhabi Championship, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
28-31 Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy, Doha, Qatar
4-7 Dubai Desert Classic, Emirates Club, United Arab Emirates
11-14 to be confirmed (TBC)
18- 21 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Dove Mountain, Marana, Arizona
25-28 TBC
4-7 TBC
11-14 WGC – CA Championship, Doral, Miami, Florida, USA
18-21 Hassan II Golf Trophy, Royal Dar Es Salam, Rabat, Morocco
25-28 Andalucian Open, Parador de Malaga, Malaga, Spain
1-4 Estoril Portuguese Open, venue tbc
8-11 US Masters, Augusta National, Georgia
8-11 Madeira Islands Open BPI-Portugal, Porto Santo, Madeira