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South Africa to host new $8.5m event from 2013

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) -South Africa will host the equal second richest tournament in golf from 2013 without it having the initially promised World Golf Championship status.

The Sunshine Tour said Tuesday that the Tournament of Hope, with total prize money of $8.5 million, will be staged in South Africa for 10 years and co-sanctioned by the International Federation of PGA Tours.

The prize puts it ahead of all four majors and on a par with the money offered at the four WGC events. Only the Players Championship is richer at $9.5 million.

But the new event fell short of the $10 million suggested by former Sunshine Tour commissioner Gareth Tindall last year and it won't be the first WGC event outside the U.S. and China.

Sunshine Tour executive Director Selwyn Nathan said he is still "confident that the world's leading players will be in South Africa."

Ty Votaw, the PGA Tour's vice president of international affairs, compared the event to the World Cup of Golf, which is held every two years and sanctioned by the international federation but not given WGC status.

The first Tournament of Hope will run from Nov. 21-24 next year and adds to a cluttered end-of-season calendar.

"It's (Tournament of Hope) something that has been discussed by the federation for several years now," Votaw said. "But in light of where it is in the schedule, it's difficult to make it a World Golf Championship. But it's something that's recognized by the federation. All the tours are putting it on their schedules."

That appears to be nothing more than a courtesy, because if a PGA Tour member competes in the Tournament of Hope and wins, it would not count as a PGA Tour win even though it appears on the PGA Tour schedule. It is considered an unofficial event on the U.S. tour.

Emboldened by Charl Schwartzel's win at the Masters last year - one of a line of recent South African victories at majors - Tindall had said the Tournament of Hope was the start of a world tour and signaled the shift of power away from the U.S.

But with their date selection, organizers also drew back from putting the Tournament of Hope in direct competition with Tiger Woods' Chevron Challenge and the Nedbank, which are both normally played on the first weekend of December.

They also didn't name the venue for the 2013 tournament on Tuesday, or say what the winner's share would be.

The three US-based WGC events, the Accenture Match Play, Cadillac Championship and Bridgestone Invitational, give the winner $1.4 million. The HSBC Champions in China offers $1.2 million.

Still, South Africa might be a tempting end-of-year destination for some of the world's best players, who could double up and play the $5 million Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City the following weekend if that tournament stays in its regular slot at the start of December.

Along with the HSBC Champions, the Tournament of Hope would be the richest anywhere outside the United States and the latest addition to South Africa's growing golf portfolio. The country gained two new European Tour events recently and will again host the Volvo Golf Champions in 2013 after it was moved out of Bahrain because of security worries.

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AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson in Jacksonville, Florida, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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