Montgomerie backs Middle East expansion

Colin Montgomerie poses for a photo ahead of the 2011 Volvo Champions in Bahrain at the Royal Golf Club, a course designed by the former Ryder Cup captain.

Colin Montgomerie poses for a photo ahead of the 2011 Volvo Champions in Bahrain at the Royal Golf Club, a course designed by the former Ryder Cup captain.

Despite the political turmoil in Egypt, former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie supports extending the European Tour’s 4-event “Desert Swing.”

“There is no reason why the European Tour cannot expand the Middle East swing to five or six events,” Montgomerie told Reuters.

Cairo already is home to the Egyptian Open, an European Challenge Tour event.

“I’ve played before in an Egyptian Open and while there is trouble over there at present, we have to be talking of including Egypt, as well,” the Scot said.

The short distance between Middle East venues, similar to tournament commutes within continental Europe, makes traveling easier for players, Montgomerie said.

Saudi Arabia already is in discussions for a tour event.

Representatives of the Saudi Arabia Golf Federation met with European Tour officials last week during the inaugural Volvo Golf Champions in Bahrain.

The Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh is a 35-minute flight from Bahrain.

“We had a good meeting with the European Tour, and yes we said to them that we would welcome the European Tour in Saudi Arabia,” said Yusuf Eddiweesh, vice president of the Saudi Arabia Golf Federation.

“We have one or two excellent venues in Riyadh that could host the event so we shall see what transpires.”

The European Tour first ventured to the Middle East for the 1989 Dubai Desert Classic. In 1998, the Qatar Masters was added to the schedule, which was followed by the first staging of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in 2006.

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