European Tour releases early 2014-15 schedule

European Tour members are facing a slightly reduced tournament load in 2015, with the early part of the European Tour schedule down by two events.

The European Tour has released early tournament dates leading up to the Masters, with the remainder of the schedule set to be released next month during the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

The 2013-14 schedule contained 17 events leading up to the Masters. There are only 15 for the upcoming season.

News that Volvo had pulled out of sponsoring the early-season Champions event in Durban, South Africa counts for one event. The other tournament missing from next year’s schedule is the Nelson Mandela Championship.

The tour has come up with two new events. The Thailand Classic at Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin joins the 2015 Race to Dubai. The European Tour last visited Thailand in 2007 for the Johnnie Walker Classic in Phuket.

A week later the tour visits India again for the Hero Indian Open. Speculation abounds that Tiger Woods will make his first visit to India, since Hero Motocorp is the title sponsor of Woods’ Hero World Challenge at Isleworth Golf & Country Club on Dec. 3-7.

The Thailand and Indian events will be co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour. In fact, nine of the 15 events are co-sanctioned tournaments, six with the South African Tour and three with the Asian Tour.

The 2014-15 schedule kicks off with the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City, South Africa on Dec. 4-7. A week later, the Alfred Dunhill Championship will be played at Leopard Creek in Malelane, South Africa. European Tour pros take a Christmas break before returning to start 2015 at Glendower Golf Club in Johannesburg for the South African Open Championship.

The traditional Desert Swing of Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai follows the South African Open before the tour heads to the Far East.

“The initial part of the 2015 Race to Dubai once again demonstrates the global appeal of the European Tour,” said Keith Waters, the European Tour’s chief operating officer and director of international policy.

“The early sector is a period when we continue our strong relationships with both the Asian Tour and Sunshine Tour.”

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The early portion of the European Tour’s 2014-15 schedule:

Dec 4-7, Nedbank Golf Challenge: Gary Player CC, Sun City, South Africa

Dec 11-14, Alfred Dunhill Championship: Leopard Creek CC, Malelane, South Africa

Jan 8-11, South African Open Championship: Glendower GC, Gauteng, Johannesburg, South Africa

Jan 15-18, Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship: Abu Dhabi GC, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Jan 21-24, Commercial Bank Qatar Masters: Doha GC, Doha, Qatar

Jan 29-Feb. 1, Omega Dubai Desert Classic: Emirates GC, Dubai, UAE

Feb 5-8, Maybank Malaysian Open: Kuala Lumpur G&CC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Feb 12-15, Thailand Classic: Black Mountain GC, Hua Hin, Thailand

Feb 19-22, Hero Indian Open: Venue TBD

Feb 26 – Mar. 1, Joburg Open: Royal Johannesburg & Kensington GC, Johannesburg, South Africa

Mar 5-8, WGC-Cadillac Championship: Trump National Doral, Doral, Fla.

Mar 5-8, Africa Open: East London GC, East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Mar 12-15, Tshwane Open: Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate, Centurion, South Africa

Mar 19-22, Madeira Islands Open: Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra, Madeira, Portugal

Mar 26-29, Trophée Hassan II: Golf du Palais Royal, Agadir, Morocco

Apr 9-12, The Masters: Augusta National Golf Club

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