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Hero India Open back on 2023 calendar after three-year absence

Hero India Open back on 2023 calendar after three-year absence

The Indian two-wheeler major will also be behind the new year’s first event, the Hero Cup, at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club from January 13 to 15 for an as-yet undisclosed sum.

Hero India Open back on 2023 calendar after three-year absence Hero India Open back on 2023 calendar after three-year absence

The Hero Indian Open makes a return on the DP World (European) Tour’s schedule for 2023 after a gap of three years and will be played from February 23 to 26 for a $2 million purse.

The Indian two-wheeler major will also be behind the new year’s first event, the Hero Cup, at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club from January 13 to 15 for an as-yet undisclosed sum.

India’s national open, first played in 1964 has over the years gone through several evolutions and the latest one gives it yet another makeover. Up until 2019, the Indian Open was co-sanctioned (backed by) the Asian Tour and the European Tour.

From 2023, the Hero Indian Open will be exclusively be on the DP World Tour schedule and no longer part of the Asian Tour. It will also offer a bigger prize fund of two million dollars, the largest ever for a professional golf tournament on Indian soil.

With the European and Asian Tours disengaging over a number of issues, Asia’s continental tour is now linked to the LIV Golf bandwagon in a tie-up announced last October and initially worth in excess of $300 million via a series of International Series tournaments.

“We are on the threshold of a new era for Asian golf,” said Cho Minn Thant, Asian Tour Commissioner and chief executive said in February. “The International Series is a new upper-tier of elite events, the likes of which the region has not seen before, that will mark the start of a phenomenal period of growth for the Asian Tour.”

Be that as it may, the DP World Tour too is bumping up its game as the LIV threat continues to rise after a successful opening run. For the new season, the European tour will offer enhanced prize money of $144.2 million across 39 guaranteed tournaments outside the majors and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play including an increased bonus pool of $6 million for the leading eight players on the rankings.

Taking a cue from Greg Norman’s LIV venture and following in the footsteps of the PGA Tour, for the first time an earnings assurance programme has been introduced to make sure every card-holder on the tour walks away with a basic earning at season’s end.

Under this earnings insurance surety or pledge, for want of a better description, players will be guaranteed minimum earnings of $150,000 if they compete in 15 or more events.

DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, said of the changes: “For us to be able to offer our members record prize funds and enhanced earning opportunities is massive, particularly when global economies are still feeling the effects of the pandemic and with the new challenge of rising inflation significantly putting pressure on costs in all facets of our business.

“Our overall prize fund for the 2023 season represents $50 million more than 2021 and also underlines the strength of our partnership with the PGA Tour, who are working with us to drive revenue and a long-term growth plan.

“One of the many benefits we have been able to introduce because of this partnership is the new Earnings Assurance Programme, similar to what they already have on the PGA Tour.

“I have always believed that it is an incredible accomplishment for any professional golfer to simply gain their playing rights on the DP World Tour and this new initiative recognises and rewards that achievement.”

Part of the bigger payout of $144.2 million is an increase in the tournament prize fund for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, Dubai Desert Classic, Genesis Scottish Open and BMW PGA Championship, all up from $8 million to $9 million, besides a $10 million purse for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

Besides the Hero Indian Open, there are four new tournaments in Asia -- the Singapore Classic (February 9 to 12) and Thailand Classic (February 16 to 19) taking place in consecutive weeks, followed by the Tour’s first trip to Japan for the ISPS Handa Championship (April 20 to 23) and a return to Korea for the first time since 2013 (April 27 to 30).