Singapore:The $2.5 million Indian Masters returns to the Delhi Golf Club next year after the Asian Tour listed the European Tour co-sanctioned event in its 2009 calender, which is set to feature a record number of events.
Apart from the Indian Masters (to be held from February 5 to 8, 2009), which was clinched by SSP Chowrasia in its debut year, India will host two more Asian Tour events - the SAIL Open (March 19-24), which also debuted this year, and the historic Indian Open (October 8-11).
The Asian Tour is all set to offer over $42 million in total prize money in 2009.
"The first half of our schedule will include several new full-field events for our players which is tremendous. It is also great to see that events which made their debuts this year such as the SAIL Open, Emaar-MGF Indian Masters, Selangor Masters and Ballantine's Championship have committed to the 2009 season," Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han said while unveiling the 28-event calender on Tuesday.
Han said the Tour was finalising five new tournaments which will be announced in due course. Once finalised, the Asian Tour could hit an unprecedented 33 events, surpassing this season's high of 30 events which offered $39 million in prize fund.
Han said three tournaments will make their debut on the schedule next year, including two new full-field Asian Tour events in Thailand and an historic maiden tournament in Europe. In addition, two other tournaments, including the Thailand Open, will make a return.
The cash-rich Barclays Singapore Open, HSBC Champions and UBS Hong Kong Open, which offers a combined prize purse of $12.5 million, will once again bolster the back-end of the year prior to the season-ending Volvo Masters of Asia.
"From a broad view, the 2009 Asian Tour Schedule will represent the finest collection of the best tournaments across Asia, spanning from India all the way to Australia. We are also looking forward to the Omega European Masters in Switzerland which will be a ground-breaking event as it will be the first European event to be co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour," said Han.
The new season will kick off in January with the staging of the Royal Trophy, which pits Asia against Europe in a Ryder Cup-style shoot-out in Bangkok.
The first Order of Merit counting event will start from the Asian Tour International, which will announce its venue in due course.
Thailand will stage four tournaments in 2009. The Thailand Open, last played in 2005, will make a return next March while the Black Mountain Masters will also debut in March. Another Thai event will be announced next week while the Volvo Masters of Asia will take its traditional place as the season-ending event.
Malaysia will also host three events, the Iskandar Johor Open, which will double its prize fund to $1 million, Maybank Malaysian Open and Selangor Masters.