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Tuesday, November 9, 1999 Published at 22:47 GMT

Belfry gets International Open

The Brabazon course has had millions spent on it since 1993

The Benson and Hedges International Open is moving to the Midlands from next year.

Ryder Cup home The Belfry is the new course, as prize money goes up by 200,000 to 1m.

The event marks the tournament's 30th birthday, and will be played between 11-14 May.

Ken Schofield, executive director of the European Tour, said: "The Brabazon course at The Belfry will provide a wonderful venue for the tournament to continue to grow in the new millennium."

Mike Maloney, executive director of The Belfry, said the decision justified major changes at the venue near Sutton Coldfield, north east of Birmingham.

"There has been an overall investment in excess of 40m since the 1993 Ryder Cup, with 3.5m spent on the Brabazon course alone."

The Europe team will be back at the Belfry in 2001 to try to win back the cup lost at Brookline two months ago.

This year's International Open champion Colin Montgomerie who won at The Oxfordshire this May, was delighted to return.

"Having visited the site recently I can assure everyone that the test of golf has been strengthened to make it a much tougher examination," said Montgomerie.

"I am delighted that we will also have the opportunity to play two Benson and Hedges tournaments on the course before the Ryder Cup and that experience will be invaluable for all of us.

"I believe that course knowledge was the main reason we won the Ryder Cup at Valderrama two years ago."

However Nigel Northridge, director of sales and marketing for Benson and Hedges, said they hoped some of the Americans would be tempted to do the same.

"I'm sure the European golfers will benefit from playing it before the 2001 Ryder Cup returns and we are also hoping to tempt some Americans to come and try the course."

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