European Tour and Ladies European Tour combine for first dual event at same course
By Camilla Tait
Last Updated: 05/05/16 4:10pm
The European Tour and Ladies European Tour have combined to make history as they both stage events at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam this week in Morocco.
The men will tee off on the Red Course in the Trophee Hassan II - live on Sky Sports 4 HD from 11.30am on Thursday - while over on the Blue Course, the women will be competing in the Lalla Meryem Cup.
For the first time, the two organisations are running concurrent events in a bid to encourage participation and attract fans to the sport and organisers have said this will not be a one-off.
With less than 100 days to go until golf returns to the Olympics for the first time in 112 years, the two Tour chief executives are hopeful this can act as a show-piece for Rio.
"It's terrific to be here alongside the LET to stage the men's and women's tournaments just three months prior to the Olympics," Keith Pelley, the European Tour chief executive, said.
"There are many Olympic hopefuls competing in both tournaments, so it's a great opportunity to showcase the strength of the men's and the women's games.
"I hope it's the start of an increased collaboration to come between the two Tours. We can grow and get stronger together."
The inclusion of golf in the Olympics has been met with varying degrees of support and while the men and women will play in different weeks in Brazil, there is a positivity about having events that run at the same time.
"Hopefully in the future we will have more events like this one, and maybe one day we might have a mixed event because it would be fun," Alexander Levy, a two-time winner on the European Tour, told the organisation.
I think it's pretty special to have both events in the same week at the same club, and I'm really grateful to the people who had this amazing idea.
Gwladys Nocera, defending champion
The tours are hopeful that the innovation will allow golf to follow other successful concurrent male and female tours such as tennis.
"We need to look beyond the borders of golf and in other sports we can see the best practices," Ivan Khodabakhsh, of the Ladies European Tour, said.
"We can see in tennis and in other sports, actually having both genders side by side in a great event competing gives so much more colour, provides so much more for the fans and hopefully we can gain new fans coming to the sport.
Another event has been confirmed to combine the two tours when the inaugural European Championships are held at Gleneagles in 2018.
Watch live coverage of the Trophee Hassan II on Sky Sports 4 HD on Thursday (11.30am to 1.30pm and 3.30pm to 6.30pm).