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It’s just the fifth year of the $8 million DP World Tour Championship, the season-ending tournament on the European Tour, but it has already established itself as one of the biggest and most anticipated golf events on the world calendar.

And from the very first year, DP World have been the title sponsors of the tournament which is the biggest marketing initiative for the Dubai-based marine terminal operators.

Eirik Hooper, Director – Competitive Intelligence, has been a constant face of DP World during these five years. An 18-handicapper, Hooper looks forward to November each year, when the DP World Tour Championship becomes part of his work and allows him to spend some time on the golf course away from his busy schedule.

Joy Chakravarty spoke to him during the tournament yesterday about DP World’s sponsorship of the showpiece…

Q As sponsors of the seasonending championship of the European Tour, what are your thoughts on the tournament?

A I have been involved with the tournament since the inaugural year, and we are delighted that every year, it just seems to get better and better as we nail down the bits and pieces.

And this year, the course is playing beautifully. All the players have had good things to say about the golf course. And as things stand now, all the right players are moving in the right direction on the leaderboard. It is definitely going to be a very exciting Sunday.

When you first started the tournament, it looked more like you were trying to showcase Dubai. Now, looking at it as a marketing initiative of DP World, are you getting a bang for your buck?

I think you are absolutely right. When we started, it was more to showcase Dubai. But again, what is good for Dubai, is good for DP World. But after our second season, we have been working very hard on the tournament.

We have increased our sponsorship of the tournament itself. We now get global exposure through our involvement in tournaments in India, Hong Kong and the BMW PGA Championship in Wentworth which also links in with our regional offices in those three locations.

We can now get our clients to see some of those events and enjoy our hospitality. We have 60 facilities in 39 countries, and we wanted to be seen globally.

An association with the European Tour and the Race to Dubai works well for us. I think we have gained a lot from the fact that the DP World Tour Championship is increasingly seen as the biggest golf tournament in the world outside the Majors. And it’s just fantastic that we have managed to do that in just five years.

Is the DP World Tour Championship your biggest sponsorship initiative? What are the other marketing initiatives you have?

Definitely. We are also now the sponsors of Al Nasr Football Club. But this is our biggest event. And one of the reasons is that as a global company based in Dubai, we wanted to be a part of a Dubai-based event that has global reach.

We are the premier partners of the Dubai 2020 Expo bid. And this is all involvement with all the good things that are happening with Dubai.

Having been part of this tournament when Dubai was going through a more difficult time because of the global economic crisis, we definitely want to be part of this tournament when things are much happier in Dubai.

What are your thoughts on the inaugural Final Series?

There has been some criticism and your tournament has lost three very big names. I have conflicting views. Obviously, I feel any change like this will have its challenges in the first year.

One of the pleasant aspects of this whole issue is that the players actually wanted to play the DP World Tour Championship, which is why the players who pulled out felt it was necessary to complain about the rules and regulations of the Final Series.

If they did not want to play here, they wouldn’t have mentioned it. So, we can actually take this as a compliment for the tournament itself. I think there needs to be some changes in the Final Series, which should have complete buy-in from the very first stage from the players, and more importantly, should be easy for the golf fans to understand.

But we do want a situation like we have this year, and I think the Final Series has played a part in it, where we have as many as four players entering the season-ending tournament with a chance to win the Race to Dubai.

That’s exciting. How happy are you with the way the venue – Jumeirah Golf Estates – has shaped up over the last year?

I must say a big thank you to Yousuf Kazim and Jumeirah Golf Estates. There is a very, very real difference in what we are seeing around the course.

I know a couple of families that have moved in here. And the recent announcement that they are going to have the clubhouse partially opened for next season and fully opened for the year after that, is just fantastic news.

And just look at the golf course itself. The trees have matured and the course is looking so different from the inaugural year.

It doesn’t make any difference to you as a sponsor commercially, but what are your thoughts on a tournament of this stature being completely free for the spectators?

We talk about it to the European Tour every year. Obviously, as sponsors, we are delighted to see so many people coming and enjoying our tournament. It’s just great to see so many families out here on Fridays and Saturdays.

It perhaps won’t be this busy, and the atmosphere so good, if there was a ticket. And every year we have had more people coming in.

I have been told by the European Tour that the number of fans who have pre-registered for entry has already exceeded that of last year’s.

We definitely like the concept of free entry, and I am sure the players also like playing in front of such huge galleries.


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