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Page last updated at 14:07 GMT, Wednesday, 13 April 2011 15:07 UK

South Africa set to host WGC tournament

England's Luke Donald
Luke Donald won the WGC World Match Play in February

South Africa is set to host golf's richest tournament after the Sunshine Tour announced a five-year deal for the fifth World Golf Championship event.

The £6.15m event could begin in early December 2012 and will feature the top 70 players in the world.

Tour commissioner Gareth Tindall said the development was "the most significant thing that has happened to South African golf in its history".

However, the date and venue of the tournament has yet to be confirmed.

The event is set to be called the Tournament of Hope and will also be aimed at increasing awareness of poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa.

The announcement comes the week after South African Charl Schwartzel claimed his first major at the 75th Masters on Sunday.

The deal was discussed at meetings between the Sunshine Tour, the United States PGA Tour and the International Federation of PGA Tours at Augusta last week.

"The significance of what we've done has huge potential," explained Tindall. "The PGA Tour might slag me for this, but essentially we are starting a world tour because Australia and Europe are going to have to do what we've done. It's only a matter of time.

"There is undoubtedly more respect now for international golfers and especially South Africans.

"The Federation of Tours began the World Golf Championships in 1987 but there is only one outside America. There's no doubt the timing was critical, the opportunity won't be there for us again."

PGA Tour co-chief operating officer Ed Moorhouse, who specialises in international golf affairs, confirmed that the meeting took place at Augusta.

"It doesn't surprise me he's [Tindall] talking about a World Golf Championship" said Moorhouse. "But there's still a lot of elements that need to be worked out, not least of which is the date.

"At this time, they're clearly in the planning stages."

And although no venue or date is set-in-stone, with organisers looking at the first week in December, it looks likely Tiger Woods' Chevron World Challenge - which is co-sponsored by the PGA Tour - could have to make way, along with the Sunshine Tour's own Nedbank Challenge at Sun City.

"Unfortunately for them, they will have to move the Chevron Challenge," added Tindall. "They moved it to the same date as the Nedbank without any consultation so I suppose it's a bit of payback time. They need to move that date."

The Tournament of Hope will be the fifth WGC event in the calendar and the second to be held outside the US, along with Shanghai's HSBC Champions event.

The three events held inside the US, the World Match Play Championship, the Cadillac Championship and the Bridgestone Invitational, already boasting bigger purses than any of the four majors.

The Chevron World Challenge has also attracted a high-quality field in the past, with UK golfers Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell all choosing to join Woods in Thousand Oaks, California last December.

But Tindall added that the prize money on offer in South Africa will be "too good to turn down" for the world's best players.

Schwartzel's Masters triumph means for the first time since 1994 no American holds any of golf's four major championships and Tindall believes the sport's newest tournament underlines a shift in player power away from the US.

"The swing of power in the world of golf is definitely moving to the international players and there is good reason for that," he commented.

"I think it is time that the American players started travelling more, learning to play on links courses, play in wind, play in rain and in adverse conditions."

The two WGC events to have been played so far this season have been won by England's Luke Donald, who took the World Match Play in Arizona and American Nick Watney, who was victorious in Florida's Cadillac Championship at Doral.

The Bridgestone Invitational, held by American Hunter Mahan, takes place in Akron, Ohio between 3-7 August and the Shanghai Champions Tournament, won last year by Italy's Francesco Molinari, begins on 3 November.

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see also
Schwartzel wins dramatic Masters
11 Apr 11 |  Golf
Watney claims WGC title at Doral
13 Mar 11 |  Golf
Donald wins WGC Match Play final
27 Feb 11 |  Golf
McDowell beats Woods in play-off
05 Dec 10 |  Golf

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