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'England's Golfing Capital'
Wins £360,000 European Funding

(Aug. 14, 2002) -- Top Golfers including Seve Ballesteros, Sam Torrance, Ian Woosnam and Greg Norman could soon be a regular sight on Merseyside. Thanks to £360,000 European funding for a new annual Golf Tournament shared between Sefton and Wirral.

Merseyside's reputation as 'Englands' Golfing Capital', the home of Royal Liverpool and Royal Birkdale, will be further enhanced when the Merseyside Festival of Golf, a £1.2 million scheme, is launched. The scheme, initially for four years, will be capable of drawing big name professionals and big spending sporting crowds.

The annual, week long, festival will become home of the new European Tour English Seniors event taking advantage of some of the regions superb links, including seven 'Open' qualifier courses of championship standard.

Lord Fearn, Sefton's Cabinet member for Economic Development and Tourism, said: "The Merseyside Festival of Golf stretching from Wirral to Southport will become one of the most prestigious sporting events in the UK and attract world wide acclaim."

Steve Foulkes, Leader of Wirral Council, said: "This is a perfect opportunity for Wirral to work with Sefton to promote the regions superb facilities and capitalise on the growing English golf market, which is traditionally well established on Merseyside.

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"We look forward to establishing the tournament which, along with the Open Championship that will soon be returning to the Royal Liverpool Golf Course at Hoylake will put Wirral firmly at the forefront of world class golfing venues."

European funding for the scheme's start up costs, for four years, will be met by £360,000 from the European Objective One programme. Sefton and Wirral Council's with the North West Development Agency are contributing £341,000 and the rest will be made up by the private sector.

Tourism Minister, Kim Howells said: "This is a good example of an area that understands the economic benefits of investing in tourism. By building on its strengths to attract a niche market, Merseyside should enjoy the extra jobs and investment that boosting tourism brings. I wish them well"

The festival, which will alternate its main event each year between Sefton and Wirral, is scheduled to start September 2003. The whole of Merseyside is set to benefit from the unique festival, which along with the English Seniors will incorporate a youth development scheme, a variety of amateur and pro-am competitions at other prestige courses and include an ambitious blend of golf based attractions.

Organisers are in the process of appointing an event co-ordination company and are actively seeking a major sponsor partner with the vision to take advantage of one of the fastest growing sectors in the golf market.

Merseyside has a vast array of golf courses in a wide variety of settings including six links courses ranked in the top one hundred in the British Isles.

For further information please contact: charlie.green@regen.sefton.gov.uk

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