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Page last updated at 11:45 GMT, Thursday, 24 March 2011

English Open at St Mellion cancelled over lack of funds

St Mellion
20m has been invested on the facilities at St Mellion

The 2011 English Open at St Mellion has been cancelled amid growing concerns over the viability of professional golf tournaments in England.

Organisers say they were unable to raise the £2m sponsorship needed to hold the event in August.

Over the past two years £20m has been invested in upgrading St Mellion's course and facilities.

The PGA and the Open Championship will now be the only professional events held in England in 2011.

The English Open has not been played as part of the European Tour since 2002, Darren Clarke winning the last event at the Forest of Arden.

The tournament was due to return to the European schedule at St Mellion in 2009 , but was postponed for two years after developers suffered financial difficulties.

However, problems raising money have struck once again, as Stephen Towers, resort director at St Mellion told BBC Radio Cornwall.

"We'd need a headline sponsor to bring in over £1m to stage this event," he said.

"So going out there and finding sponsorship we're looking at the high-end blue-chip companies, but a lot are involved in Olympic sponsorship and many others are curtailing their spending back with the current economic times."

The economic benefits of staging a professional golf tournament are substantial - last year's Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor brought in £84.5m to the Welsh economy.

However, BBC Sport's golf correspondent Iain Carter feels sponsors are unwilling to take the initial step, despite the potential rewards.

"It's no great surprise the tournament has been cancelled," he said.

"It's a reflection of the trend that we're seeing in European golf at the moment in that the sponsors are to be found the other side of the world, not in Europe, not in Great Britain and certainly not in England.

"There are economic benefits to be had but what you need is for companies to put their hands in their pockets to put the sponsorship money up first and foremost. They're prepared to do that in the growing markets in the Far East and so many European Tour events take place in Asia now.

"It's only going to turn around when companies recognise that golf can provide them with the impetus through sponsorship to grow their company."

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