French Open becomes eighth event in new Rolex Series

The French Open has become the eighth event in the European Tour's inaugural Rolex Series this year after securing a ground-breaking five-year sponsorship with the Chinese-headquartered HNA Group.

European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley was joined by players and officials at today's French Open sponsorship announcement in Paris. Picture: Getty Images
European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley was joined by players and officials at today's French Open sponsorship announcement in Paris. Picture: Getty Images

To be held at Le Golf National in Paris, venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup, it will be another $7 million tournament, joining the previously announced BMW PGA Championship, Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation, Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, Italian Open, Turkish Airlines Open, Nedbank Golf Challenge and DP World Tour Championship on the Rolex Series schedule.

“We are delighted to announce this exciting relationship with HNA Group which represents a significant new era in the proud history of the Open de France,” said European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank HNA Group for their vision and commitment, not only to the Open de France but to the European Tour as a whole.

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“We are also grateful to everyone at the French Golf Federation for their continued commitment to the tournament, which celebrated its 100th edition last year. With France preparing to host the Ryder Cup in 2018, today’s announcement that the HNA Open de France will be part of the Rolex Series is another important milestone for French golf.”

The HNA Group is a global Fortune 500 company focused on tourism, logistics and financial services. As well as this being the company’s first title sponsorship of a European Tour event, it is also the first time a global organisation headquartered in China has sponsored a European Tour event outside the country.

“The commitment we are making to the European Tour represents a new and exciting era for this historic national Open, and provides us with an opportunity to promote HNA Group as a global leader in travel and tourism across a wide consumer audience in connection with a prestigious event,” said HNA Group vice-chairman Chen Wenli. “We look forward to welcoming fans to France – one of the world’s great destinations. This partnership is a true win-win for HNA and the European Tour.”

Last year’s 100th staging of the French Open was won by Thongchai Jaidee as the Thai player joined the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman, Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Retief Goosen, José María Olazábal, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell on the event’s roll of honour.

“As the oldest tournament in continental Europe, having been staged for the 100th time in 2016, the Open de France is one of the most legendary events in French sport and in golf globally,” said French Golf Federation president Jean Lou Charon. “We remain as determined as ever to preserve its status as a shining beacon of our sport in France, and ensure that it continues to promote golf across the country.

“The arrival of HNA Group, alongside FFGolf and the European Tour, represents a magnificent opportunity to enhance its status even further, and is also reward for the hard work the FFGolf’s team has put into making the tournament a world-class event.

“I am delighted with this major development for French golf and our great champions, which will see Le Golf National, the host course of the next Ryder Cup, continue to welcome major golf competitions and the best players in the world.”