Golf’s Open de France holes HNA Group as title sponsor

Chinese conglomerate HNA Group has been unveiled as the title sponsor of the Open de France golf tournament.

The five-year deal covers the 2017 to 2021 editions of the event, which from this year will form part of the lucrative new Rolex Series, an alliance of the European Tour’s leading tournaments. The event will officially be known as the HNA Open de France.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the deal will enable the prize fund for this year’s event to be increased to $7m (€6.6m).

The deal represents HNA Group’s first title sponsorship of a European Tour event and the first time a China-headquartered global organisation has sponsored a European Tour event outside of 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,” Chen Wenli, vice-chairman of HNA Group, said. “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.”

This year’s Open de France takes place from June 29 to July 2 at Le Golf National in Paris, which will host the Ryder Cup in 2018. Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee is the defending Open de France champion.

The European Tour announced details of the Rolex Series in November. The series has been formed in an attempt to enhance the competitive and entertainment experience for players and fans, and encourage leading stars to commit to the Tour.

The Open de France becomes the eighth tournament to be added to this year’s Rolex Series and will be the second event on the schedule after the PGA Championship at Wentworth Club in England.

After the Open de France, the series continues with the Irish Open, Scottish Open and Italian Open before concluding in November with the Turkish Airlines Open in Turkey, the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.