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Trump buys historic Turnberry

New York (AFP) – American real estate tycoon Donald Trump on Wednesday announced the biggest addition yet to his golf course holdings — Open Championship host Turnberry.

Trump said in a statement that he had agreed to buy the fabled links course on the west coast of Scotland, calling it “an honor and a privilege to own one of golf’s greatest and most exciting properties.”

The Trump Organization did not disclose terms of the deal, but the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported Trump bought it for the “bargain price” of 35.7 million pounds ($60 million, 43 million euros) from Dubai-based Leisurecorp.

Trump said he intended to invest “many millions of dollars” to improve the resort’s Turnberry Hotel, although he said he wouldn’t consider any changes to the golf course unless the Royal & Ancient, global golf’s governing body, approve them.

“I won’t do anything to the golf course at all without their full stamp of approval,” Trump told golf.com.

Turnberry’s Ailsa Course has hosted the Open Championship four times, most recently in 2009, when Stewart Cink defeated Tom Watson in a playoff.

Watson won the first and most famous edition of the Open to be held at Turnberry, claiming a one-stroke victory over Jack Nicklaus in 1977, their final round battle known as the “Duel in the Sun.”

Australian Greg Norman lifted the Claret Jug at Turnberry in 1986 and Zimbabwe’s Nick Price won there in 1994.

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Trump buys historic Turnberry

Trump buys Turnberry golf course

LONDON (Reuters) – Turnberry, the iconic Scottish golf course which hosted one of the sport’s greatest duels, has been sold to American billionaire Donald Trump.

The real estate magnate announced on Tuesday that he had bought the famous links course for an undisclosed sum from the Dubai-based Leisurecorp.

“It was an opportunity, as far as I was concerned,” Trump told golf.com.

“Turnberry is considered one of the greatest courses in the world. It’s a special place. It’s an important place.”

Trump said he had no plans to change the course layout, which sits on a former World War One airfield and overlooks the Irish Sea, but he does want to develop the Turnberry hotel.

Trump owns a handful of golf courses in the United States but has never had one that has hosted a major championship but that could change with his purchase of Turnberry.

The course has hosted the British Open four times, most recently in 2009, and is likely to be considered for future majors.

“Turnberry is a great favorite among the players and it’s on the Open rota for sure,” R&A chief executive Peter Dawson told the BBC.

The British Open was first staged at Turnberry in 1977 when Tom Watson beat fellow American Jack Nicklaus by a stroke in a famous final round which became known as the “duel in the sun.”

(Reporting by Julian Linden in New York, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Trump buys Turnberry golf course

Simpson banking on home comforts at Quail Hollow

(Reuters) – Former U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson is banking on home advantage at this week’s $6.9 million Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina to help him reverse a run of poor form in his last six PGA Tour starts.

The 28-year-old American, who lives about a mile away from the clubhouse at Quail Hollow Club, made a barn-storming start to the 2013-14 season with four successive top-10s, including a victory at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

However, Simpson has mainly struggled over the past three months, and has missed two cuts in his last six appearances on the U.S. circuit with a best strokeplay finish of joint 47th.

“I’ve got to tell myself all the time, it’s a game where you go in waves,” Simpson, whose best finish at Quail Hollow was in 2012 when he placed fourth, said while preparing for Thursday’s opening round. “Jimmy Walker’s super hot right now. He’s playing incredible golf. Maybe the best of anybody in the world.”

Fellow American Walker has won a season-high three times on the 2013-14 PGA Tour.

“Then you take a guy like Tiger Woods who has been the best player forever, and he even goes through the low slumps,” Simpson told reporters.

“So all that to say, I’m not too worried. I never get too down. It gets frustrating, but it’s nice to be able to play every week. What we do is we get opportunities every week to start playing good again.”

Simpson, who clinched his fourth PGA Tour title at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October by a commanding six shots, knows every inch of Quail Hollow where he spends a lot of time practising when he is back at home.

“I know different wind directions, pin placements,” said the American, whose world ranking has slipped to 29th from a career-high fifth following his U.S. Open triumph in 2012.

“I think it hurt me the first couple years here. I put too much pressure on myself, but I’m not putting any pressure on myself this year.

“It’s more just I know that, hey, you know this golf course as good as anybody. So use that to your advantage.”

Simpson faces a strong challenge at Quail Hollow this week where the high-quality field includes players such as reigning U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, 2010 winner Rory McIlroy and five-times major winner Phil Mickelson.

American left-hander Mickelson and Englishman Rose will tee off Thursday in a star-studded grouping along with former world number one Lee Westwood while Simpson has been paired with compatriot Zach Johnson and South African Ernie Els.

Little known American Derek Ernst will defend the title he won last year as a rookie after a sudden-death playoff with Englishman David Lynn.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Simpson banking on home comforts at Quail Hollow

Golf-European Tour subsidises late switch, Asia not as generous

By Patrick Johnston

SINGAPORE, April 30 (Reuters) – The European Tour has picked up any costs its members incurred after the late decision to move this week’s tournament from South Korea to Singapore but Asian Tour golfers at the co-sanctioned event have not been offered similar reimbursements.

Earlier this month, the two circuits announced that The Championship was being relocated due to “staging issues” after its original sponsor withdrew, meaning flight bookings required changing and hotels switched to compete at Laguna National.

The European Tour sent a directive to its members on how to reclaim expenses for the extra costs provoked following the unforeseen change of circumstances.

The Asian Tour, however, were not able to match the offer to their 72 players in the 156-man field for this week’s $1.5 million event, formally known as the Ballentine’s Championship, where prize money is down from last year’s $2.8 million purse.

Asian Tour chairman Kyi Hla Han was not available for comment after playing in the pro am on Wednesday, while the Tour’s CEO Mike Kerr, away on business in Abu Dhabi, also opted against discussing the issue.

The Asian Tour’s order of merit leader Anirban Lahiri said changing flights and bookings were part and parcel of being a golfer and he laid no blame at the door of the organisers but the Indian did praise the European Tour’s policy.

“Everyone is trying to be economical by booking in time but these things can happen if you pull out of events or miss cuts, you change tickets,” the Indian told Reuters on Wednesday.

“It is something that is the prerogative of the Tour, if the European Tour has taken that decision its really good on the Tour to support their players and hopefully something like this can be learnt by the other tours.”

SCHEDULE DELAY

Late scheduling switches are par for the course for Asian Tour members with the 2014 Myanmar Open disappearing from the list of events without notice, while the return of next month’s Philippine Open was only announced on Friday.

The Asian Tour members are still waiting for the second half of their 2014 schedule to be announced with the Chiangmai Golf Classic held in Thailand in July their last confirmed event of the year to date.

Singapore’s Mardam Marmat said the switch of venues for this week’s event had led to mixed feelings.

“I had already got my flights and done my visa,” the world number 548, who has won $4,025 from four events this year, told reporters.

“It is good and bad for me… bad I lose some money on the air ticket and good I now play in my home town.”

European Tour member Brett Rumford, winner of the event last year in Korea, said the late switch had not caused him too much trouble.

“I didn’t book any accommodation or flights to Korea so I got lucky on that,” the Australian told reporters after revealing he nearly missed last week’s China Open because he had run out of pages in his passport and required a new one.

“The Tour is always subsidising any money lost so we have been looked after.”

Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, who won the tournament in 2012, said he was grateful to organisers for managing to put an event on this week after the scheduling difficulties.

“We are fortunate to have the tournament from what I’ve heard. We lost the tournament at Blackstone, which was a shame for me as I’d played well there for two years,” he said.

“But it is great to be here in Singapore and we have to pay a great deal of credit to everyone for setting up a tournament like this in such a short period of time.” (Editing by John O’Brien)

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Golf-European Tour subsidises late switch, Asia not as generous

Golf-European golf faces fight to keep club players – R&A chief

By Matt Smith

ABU DHABI, April 29 (Reuters) – European golf will struggle to maintain its market share as people opt for alternative ways to spend their leisure time, the head of the game’s governing body warned on Tuesday, urging clubs to speed up play and reduce costs to attract new players.

Golf participation in Europe fell for the first time in 20 years in 2011 and declined further in 2012, according to consultants KPMG, while the United States has also suffered a marked drop in both players and courses.

“There’s so much competition for people’s time these days in mature golf markets it will be pretty hard for golf to keep the market share it had of people’s leisure time years ago,” said Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal and Ancient (R&A), the body which governs golf outside the United States.

“Worldwide we’re still growing but the growth will be in new countries and established countries will have to fight to keep their market share,” Dawson told Reuters on the sidelines of the HSBC Golf Business Forum in Abu Dhabi.

Part of the reason for golf’s decline in Europe and the United States is the increased time it takes to play a round, a problem that could ease if clubs scheduled two-ball tee times in the morning, Dawson said.

“It used to be that you could have breakfast and lunch at home and play golf in between and we have to allow some people to do that again,” he said.

“Far too much investment is put into golf facilities, not on the course, but in clubhouses and the rest. If we want lots of people to come to the game it mustn’t cost too much. That means the investment in facilities has to be at a moderate level.”

KPMG estimates that golf participation in Europe did pick up slightly last year, but numbers in Britain and Ireland, which account for 29 percent of the continent’s players and 44 percent of courses, have been continuously falling since 2007.

The slump has coincided with the end of Tiger Woods’s dominance. The American remains the biggest draw in golf and has regained the number one ranking but the 38-year-old’s last major win was the 2008 U.S. Open.

Nearly 20 different players have won major championships since and this diversity has actually proved detrimental to golf’s profile, according to Dawson.

“Golf is a very difficult game to dominate – to become a star today with so many good players in the world is becoming harder, but we need stars badly,” said Dawson.

“If we have a scenario where 50 players win one tournament each a year I think the game will struggle as compared to if we have two or three exceptional players.”

OLYMPIC RETURN

Golf will return to the Olympics at 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games for the first time since 1904 and its inclusion has boosted state funding for the sport in countries where it is in its infancy.

“The Olympics provides the most wonderful vehicle to take new sports to new markets,” Giles Morgan, HSBC’s Global Head of Sponsorship and Events, told Reuters.

“In Asia, participation is growing. Golf has traditionally followed the middle class growth and you’re seeing a middle class economic boom in places like India and China and therefore you’re seeing a growth in the sport there.”

A top International Olympic Committee (IOC) official on Tuesday called Rio’s preparations for the games “the worst” he had ever seen and critically behind schedule, but Dawson said the city’s Olympic golf course would be ready in time.

“We’ve been lucky that we didn’t have London to consider so we’ve been down in Rio longer than a lot of sports trying to get this done,” added Dawson.

“The pace has picked up recently. I never doubted we’d get there but I’m much more hopeful we’ll get there early than I was. We’re targeting it to be ready for a test event during 2015.” (Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Golf-European golf faces fight to keep club players – R&A chief

Pinehurst U.S. Open attracts record entry total

(Reuters) – This year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Pinehurst, Northern Carolina has attracted a record total of 10,127 entries, the United States Golf Association (USGA) said on Thursday.

The number of applicants for the June 12-15 tournament eclipsed the previous best of 9,860 for last year’s U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

“The number of entries, from across the world, affirms both the great appeal of playing in our national championship and the history surrounding Pinehurst No. 2,” USGA vice president Daniel Burton said in a statement.

The U.S. Open, the second of the year’s four majors, will be held for a third time on the classic No. 2 Course at Pinehurst with its notorious upturned-saucer greens.

The most recent U.S. Open staged there was in 2005, won by New Zealand’s Michael Campbell.

England’s Justin Rose will defend the title he clinched by two shots at Merion last year, after overhauling 54-hole leader Phil Mickelson in the final round.

Eleven other former champions are fully exempt for this year’s edition: Angel Cabrera (2007), Campbell (2005), Ernie Els (1994, 1997), Jim Furyk (2003), Lucas Glover (2009), Retief Goosen (2001, 2004), Graeme McDowell (2010), Rory McIlroy (2011), Geoff Ogilvy (2006), Webb Simpson (2012) and Tiger Woods (2000, 2002, 2008).

Local qualifying for the U.S. Open will be held at 111 venues from May 2-19 after which 36 holes of sectional qualifying will take place at 12 locations from May 26-June 2.

For the 10th year in a row, two of the sectional qualifiers are international. One will be held in Japan and the other in England, both on May 26.

To be eligible to enter the U.S. Open, a player must be a professional or have a handicap of 1.4 or better.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Pinehurst U.S. Open attracts record entry total

Golf-Pinehurst U.S. Open attracts record entry total

April 24 (Reuters) – This year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Pinehurst, Northern Carolina has attracted a record total of 10,127 entries, the United States Golf Association (USGA) said on Thursday.

The number of applicants for the June 12-15 tournament eclipsed the previous best of 9,860 for last year’s U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

“The number of entries, from across the world, affirms both the great appeal of playing in our national championship and the history surrounding Pinehurst No. 2,” USGA vice president Daniel Burton said in a statement.

The U.S. Open, the second of the year’s four majors, will be held for a third time on the classic No. 2 Course at Pinehurst with its notorious upturned-saucer greens.

The most recent U.S. Open staged there was in 2005, won by New Zealand’s Michael Campbell.

England’s Justin Rose will defend the title he clinched by two shots at Merion last year, after overhauling 54-hole leader Phil Mickelson in the final round.

Eleven other former champions are fully exempt for this year’s edition: Angel Cabrera (2007), Campbell (2005), Ernie Els (1994, 1997), Jim Furyk (2003), Lucas Glover (2009), Retief Goosen (2001, 2004), Graeme McDowell (2010), Rory McIlroy (2011), Geoff Ogilvy (2006), Webb Simpson (2012) and Tiger Woods (2000, 2002, 2008).

Local qualifying for the U.S. Open will be held at 111 venues from May 2-19 after which 36 holes of sectional qualifying will take place at 12 locations from May 26-June 2.

For the 10th year in a row, two of the sectional qualifiers are international. One will be held in Japan and the other in England, both on May 26.

To be eligible to enter the U.S. Open, a player must be a professional or have a handicap of 1.4 or better. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Golf-Pinehurst U.S. Open attracts record entry total

Dyson enjoys happy return to China, shares lead with Quiros

(Reuters) – Englishman Simon Dyson, who was handed a suspended two-month ban for cheating in December, fired a five-under-par 67 to grab a share of the first round lead at the European Tour’s China Open on Thursday.

The Englishman fired six birdies and a lone bogey in his round in Shenzhen to end the day tied with big-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros at the top of a congested leaderboard.

“The first nine holes I played was the best I have played for quite some time,” Dyson told the European Tour.

“I missed two fairways just, and didn’t miss a green so gave myself a lot chances which is always nice and then I managed to make a couple of birdies on the other side for a tidy five under. It was a good start and very pleasing.”

The 36-year-old has enjoyed previous success in China, winning the event in 2000 as well as the Hong Kong and Macau Opens.

But it was in Shanghai in October where he was disqualified from the BMW Masters and hit with a fine for fixing a spike mark on the line of a putt that led to his suspended ban.

Quiros won the last of his six European Tour titles in 2011 and his world ranking has since slumped to 240 but the Spaniard showed that his game was heading in the right direction.

Four birdies and an eagle at the par-five 13th put him in pole position to end his trophy drought.

Defending champion Brett Rumford of Australia made a strong start in his bid to become the first man to successfully defend the title after a 68 left him in a group of six players tied for third.

Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin was leading the tournament at six under before a horror quadruple-bogey eight on the par-four 15th threw his charge off course but he ended the day with a birdie for a three-under 69 and a share of ninth.

That scored was matched by England’s Ian Poulter, who had four birdies in his round to sit alongside compatriot Simon Khan and home favorite Wu Ashun.

World number three Henrik Stenson, who can jump ahead of Tiger Woods and take top spot in the rankings with victory in China, suffered a fourth bogey of the day on the last for a 71.

That was two better than U.S. PGA champion Jason Dufner.

Play was suspended due to darkness with five players yet to complete their opening rounds.

(Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by John O’Brien)

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Dyson enjoys happy return to China, shares lead with Quiros

Golf-Dyson enjoys happy return to China, shares lead with Quiros

April 24 (Reuters) – Englishman Simon Dyson, who was handed a suspended two-month ban for cheating in December, fired a five-under-par 67 to grab a share of the first round lead at the European Tour’s China Open on Thursday.

The Englishman fired six birdies and a lone bogey in his round in Shenzhen to end the day tied with big-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros at the top of a congested leaderboard.

“The first nine holes I played was the best I have played for quite some time,” Dyson told the European Tour.

“I missed two fairways just, and didn’t miss a green so gave myself a lot chances which is always nice and then I managed to make a couple of birdies on the other side for a tidy five under. It was a good start and very pleasing.”

The 36-year-old has enjoyed previous success in China, winning the event in 2000 as well as the Hong Kong and Macau Opens.

But it was in Shanghai in October where he was disqualified from the BMW Masters and hit with a fine for fixing a spike mark on the line of a putt that led to his suspended ban.

Quiros won the last of his six European Tour titles in 2011 and his world ranking has since slumped to 240 but the Spaniard showed that his game was heading in the right direction.

Four birdies and an eagle at the par-five 13th put him in pole position to end his trophy drought.

Defending champion Brett Rumford of Australia made a strong start in his bid to become the first man to successfully defend the title after a 68 left him in a group of six players tied for third.

Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin was leading the tournament at six under before a horror quadruple-bogey eight on the par-four 15th threw his charge off course but he ended the day with a birdie for a three-under 69 and a share of ninth.

That scored was matched by England’s Ian Poulter, who had four birdies in his round to sit alongside compatriot Simon Khan and home favourite Wu Ashun.

World number three Henrik Stenson, who can jump ahead of Tiger Woods and take top spot in the rankings with victory in China, suffered a fourth bogey of the day on the last for a 71.

That was two better than U.S. PGA champion Jason Dufner.

Play was suspended due to darkness with five players yet to complete their opening rounds. (Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by John O’Brien)

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Golf-Dyson enjoys happy return to China, shares lead with Quiros

‘Big Easy’ Els returns to a favored PGA Tour haunt

(Reuters) – Four-times major winner Ernie Els returns this week to one of his favorite cities, where he shares the alluring nickname of ‘The Big Easy,’ to make his eighth career start at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

At a PGA Tour event where he has always enjoyed a “good vibe,” the smooth-swinging South African lost out to American Jason Dufner in a playoff for the title in 2012, then tied for 15th last year at the TPC Louisiana.

“At the forefront of my mind right now is making sure I put all my efforts into trying to produce a better performance at this week’s Zurich Classic,” Els wrote on his blog. “In the recent past, that’s been something of a good omen for me.

“In fact, in my previous two appearances here I’ve been 19 under (par) … that’s a tidy scoring average of around 68, which reflects my fondness for this golf course.

“Pete Dye has always been one of my favorite designers and courses like TPC Louisiana just seem to fit my eye.”

Els, a 19-times winner on the PGA Tour, will aim to feed off those positive memories in front of supportive fans as he seeks his first victory on the U.S. circuit since the 2012 British Open.

“The vibe here in New Orleans is good and the galleries are fantastic,” said the 44-year-old South African, who finished third at the event in 2001 when it was held at English Turn Golf & Country Club.

“It’s a great tournament and, although this is my fifth straight week on the road, I just want to channel all my energies into this and see if I can kick-start my season and get something going here.”

Els has been drawn in a high-profile grouping for the first two rounds at the TPC Louisiana, along with U.S. Open champion Justin Rose and local favorite and 2001 winner David Toms.

Another trio likely to attract big galleries is the all-American threesome of Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler and Billy Horschel.

Reed has been one of the hottest players on the PGA Tour over the past six months with three tournament wins while fellow young gun Fowler seems to be back to his best after recording top-10s in his last two starts.

Horschel clinched last year’s Zurich Classic by a shot, sealing his maiden victory on the circuit with a closing eight-under-par 64, and will aim this week to become the event’s first back-to-back winner since Paraguay’s Carlos Franco in 2000.

Seven former Zurich Classic champions are in the field, including Jerry Kelly (2009), Andres Romero (2008), Nick Watney (2007), Tim Petrovic (2005) and Vijay Singh (2004).

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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‘Big Easy’ Els returns to a favored PGA Tour haunt

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