New Final Series will be great, says Olazabal

Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:18pm EDT
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By Tony Jimenez

(Reuters) - The inaugural FedExCup-style 'Final Series' that tees off in Shanghai this week will give the European Tour a much-needed shot in the arm after a difficult year, said twice major winner Jose Maria Olazabal.

While the rival U.S. PGA Tour goes from strength to strength, the European circuit has struggled for sponsors and been badly hampered by the absence of headline attractions like Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.

With the majority of the triumphant 2012 Ryder Cup team basing themselves on the other side of the Atlantic this season, chief executive George O'Grady has had an awkward task in selling the European Tour brand.

The 'Final Series', similar to the U.S. circuit's end-of-season FedExCup extravaganza, is a sequence of four events worth more than $30 million in total and starts on Thursday with the BMW Masters in China.

"I think we are going to see four great tournaments," 2012 Ryder Cup captain Olazabal told Reuters in an interview.

"It's very important for the European Tour. We are going to see the top players coming back to play in these events and it's a good attraction for the tour, for the fans, the players and for media attention."

Shanghai also stages the WGC-Champions Tournament next week before the Final Series builds to a crescendo with the Turkish Open featuring world number one Tiger Woods and finally the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in the middle of November.

"This is another idea to keep the players on their toes," said 1994 and 1999 U.S. Masters champion Olazabal. "It's important for 2014 too, especially as that is a Ryder Cup year.   Continued...

Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal tees off on the second hole during the first round of the 2013 U.S. Open golf championship at the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Adam Hunger