Exclusive Long-Term Partnership with Online HD Golf Destination Establishes First Virtual Open Championship in Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of The Open on the Old Course at St Andrews Links
SAN FRANCISCO (April 15, 2010) –The R&A, organizer of The Open Championship and golf’s governing body outside of the U.S. and Mexico, today announced an exclusive long-term partnership with online HD, 3D golf destination World Golf Tour (WGT). The R&A views this partnership, which will enable a Virtual Open Championship to run online in conjunction with The Open, as an opportunity to introduce the game to new audiences and increase participation in golf.
“The R&A is dedicated to developing the game of golf, and The Open Championship plays a huge part in our efforts,” said Adam Lynch, Head of Digital Media for The R&A. “This partnership with World Golf Tour enables us to reach more fans than ever before and give them a taste of competitive golf at the home of the game. We are delighted to offer this to our fans on the 150th Anniversary of The Open Championship.”
Through this partnership, World Golf Tour is recognized as the exclusive creator, platform-provider and co-host of the Virtual Open Championship. As the world’s best golfers compete for the Claret Jug at this year’s Open Championship at St Andrews Links, fans will have a chance to do the same on an HD, realistic, virtual version of the Old Course at St Andrews Links, bringing them closer to the action than ever before and giving them an appreciation for what it’s like to compete on this famous golf course under championship conditions.
This year marks the first of ESPN’s broadcasting deal with The R&A. To help celebrate the 150th Open, the media network is collaborating with The R&A and WGT on the inaugural Virtual Open Championship, and will broaden access to the Championship to golf fans worldwide by making it available for play on ESPN Arcade, ESPN.com’s destination for casual games online. The Virtual Open Championship’s first event is a closest-to-the-hole version on the Front 9 holes of the Old Course at St Andrews Links, which will be available on www.opengolf.com, www.wgt.com and www.espnarcade.com starting April 15. This is the opportunity for players to hone their skills in preparation for the Stroke Play events which begin on June 1st. After competing in a qualifying round of 18 holes and a 36-hole championship round, one winner will emerge as the champion and will receive a trip for two to St Andrews with a round of golf on the Old Course.
“We look forward to welcoming The Open Championship back to the Home of Golf as it celebrates its 150th Anniversary,” said Izzy Cameron, Brand Development Manager at St Andrews Links Trust, the organization which manages and maintains the Old Course and the other six courses at St Andrews Links. “We are pleased to be working with The R&A and WGT on creating the Virtual Open Championship and believe this will help even more people become familiar with the Old Course and its iconic golfing landscape.”
Using its patented technology, which replicates courses within 1 ½ inches of accuracy, World Golf Tour was able to faithfully recreate the Old Course at St Andrews Links. More than 100,000 HD images were captured, geo-referenced and placed into a patented physics simulator, along with other measurements, to render a course that allows fans to truly experience every shot.
“To be partnered with The Open Championship and St Andrews Links Trust, is testament to the incredible product we’ve developed and the vast fan base we’ve established,” said YuChiang Cheng, CEO of World Golf Tour. “We’re humbled and truly honored to be working with these prestigious organizations to grow the game of golf.”
About World Golf Tour
World Golf Tour (WGT) is the leader in virtual online sports gaming with its free-to-play browser-based HD golf destination that provides photographic 3D replicas of world class courses for play. With more than one million members worldwide WGT enables players to compete in a free, easy-to learn and rewarding community. WGT requires no download or special plug-ins, and its patented technology offers a rich and realistic playing experience on world class golf courses. In partnership with brands such as American Express, USGA, Pinehurst Resorts, Kiawah Island Resorts and NBC Sports, WGT has awarded more than $100,000 in products, prizes and tournament purses since its inception in 2008. For more information, please visit www.wgt.com.
About The R&A
The Open Championship is golf’s oldest Major and celebrates its 150th Anniversary this year (2010). Based in St Andrews, The R&A is golf's governing body and organiser of The Open Championship. The R&A is committed to working for golf and operates with the consent of 138 organisations from the amateur and professional game and on behalf of over thirty million golfers in 124 countries.
About St Andrews Links Trust
St Andrews Links Trust manages and maintains the seven courses at St Andrews Links, the Home of Golf, including the famous Old Course, host of the 2010 Open Championship, and The Castle Course which opened in 2008. The Trust was established in 1974. It employs more than 300 permanent staff and manages a number of additional facilities including three clubhouses, a golf practice centre and golf academy and four shops.
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