French Open in need of new sponsor after HNA backs out

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French Open in need of new sponsor after HNA backs out

Euro Tour

French Open in need of new sponsor after HNA backs out

PARIS – European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley is looking for a new sponsor for next year’s French Open after current backer HNA announced it will no longer fund one of the European Tour’s longest running tournaments.

The Chinese company is withdrawing its sponsorship after just two years.

HNA was announced as French Open sponsor last year to join the Tour’s lucrative Rolex Series, tournaments with a minimum prize fund of $7 million. The announcement took the number of Rolex events to eight and gave credence to Pelley’s intention to having 10 Rolex Series events by 2020.

In a statement, the company said:

“HNA Group is proud to be the title sponsor of the Open de France. We have, however, made the decision not to extend our sponsorship beyond this year. We thank the European Tour, Fédération française de golf and fellow sponsors for their partnership.

“The business and strategy priorities on these sponsorship issues have evolved, and we decided not to continue our partnership.”

Pelley needs to attract a new sponsor for next year’s tournament.

“HNA helped elevate the Open de France to a new level over the past two years and we thank them for their contribution,” Pelley said in a statement released by the European Tour. “With the value we have built together, combined with the tournament’s rich history, the quality of the golf course at Le Golf National and its proximity to one of the world’s great cities in Paris, we are confident of attracting a new title partner. We are committed to keeping the Open de France as part of the Rolex Series for 2019 and beyond.”

The French Open was first held in 1906 when Arnaud Massy, the only French winner of the Open Championship (1907), lifted the trophy. Notable winners include J.H. Taylor, James Braid, Walter Hagen, Sir Henry Cotton, Bobby Locke, Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman, Sandy Lyle, Sir Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal, Graeme McDowell and Tommy Fleetwood.

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