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British Masters falls victim to recession

  • Story Highlights
  • British Masters at The Belfry has been dropped from European Tour schedule
  • Organizers could not find a new sponsor in the current "economic meltdown"
  • Asian Tour also loses the season-ending Volvo Masters of Asia tournament
by Paul Gittings and Chris Eldergill
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(CNN) -- The economic downturn has claimed another prestigious event on the European Tour with this year's British Masters dropped from the schedule.

Last year's British Masters champion Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano will not be able to defend his title this year.

Last year's British Masters champion Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano will not be able to defend his title this year.

The event had been planned for September 17-20 at The Belfry, but joins the English Open in coming off the "Race to Dubai" -- the new name for the European Tour.

Sponsorship from Quinn Insurance came to an end after three years and tournament organizers ISM have been unable to find a replacement.

ISM chief Andrew Chandler told CNN that he was hopeful the tournament could return in 2010.

"We're obviously disappointed that the Quinn Insurance deal ran out during an economic meltdown," he said.

"If I'm honest, we probably spent too long looking for a direct replacement for Quinn and not enough time trying to find an interim replacement, someone we could get in on a one-year deal.

"However, we're fairly confident that the British Masters will be back on the 2010 European Tour calendar."

The slot reserved for the British Masters has been filled by the Austrian Open, which was originally set for June. Prize money of approximately $1.5 million will be on offer for the tournament at the Fontana Golf Club in Vienna.

Golf's Asian Tour has also suffered a major sponsorship blow as the season-ending Volvo Masters of Asia was called off.

The Swedish car maker declined to extend their support into 2009 with Per Ericsson, President & CEO of Volvo Event Management, telling the Asian Tour's Web site that a number of factors had come into consideration. "The current economic climate, the unstable situation surrounding Asian golf at present and recent unrest in Thailand all played a part," Ericsson said.

But Volvo did confirm sponsorship of the World Match Play Championship at Finca Cortesin Golf Club in Spain from October 29 to November 1.

The tournament, previously held at Wentworth in England, will be one of the key events ahead of the $10 million Dubai World Championship from November 19-22.

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