THE Hero Challenge – featuring Major champions and Ryder Cup stars tackling tough short-hole targets in spectacular locations – is to expand over the next three years, the European Tour has announced.
The innovative format tournament, which has been played against stunning backdrops – including the Dubai skyline, the Liverpool docks, London’s Canary Wharf and Edinburgh Castle – has now been held at 10 European Tour events since 2016.
The new three-year deal signed by Hero MotoCorp, the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters, will see the number of Hero Challenges rise from three to five each season.
The exciting and fast-paced shootout will take place 15 times between 2020 and 2022 at different iconic locations around the world.
The series of five annual events will begin in 2020 with the Abi Dhabi HSBC Championship – the first Rolex Series event of the season – before moving to Europe.
A Hero Challenge will precede the Betfred British Masters, to be hosted by Lee Westwood at Close House, near Newcastle, in May, with the city’s famous Tyne Bridge almost certain to feature as the backdrop.
Two more will be held in Europe before the series finale in Dubai, which will feature the winners of all four Hero Challenges, who will compete at the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Hero Motorcorp chairman Dr Pawan Munjal made the announcement on Tuesday, during the Hero Challenge ahead of this week’s DP World Tour Championship, in Dubai.
Played at the iconic Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai, the occasion marked the 10th edition of the Hero Challenge over the past three years.
Erik van Rooyen emerged as the winner of the final Hero Challenge of 2019.
The South African defeated Major Champions Shane Lowry, Patrick Reed, Henrik Stenson and Danny Willett, as well as Ryder Cup star Rafa Cabrera Bello.
Dr Munjal said: “Golf has rapidly gained prominence at the world stage, yet there is a constant need to push the envelope and bring innovation to attract younger audiences.
“We introduced the Hero Challenge on the European Tour in 2016 and this distinct format has greatly appealed to a new league of followers over the years.
“The overwhelming success of Hero Challenge has encouraged us to further strengthen our association with the European Tour.
“We have been immensely encouraged by the support and participation of all the icons of the game and will continue to work towards popularising the sport across the world.”
European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said: “We are thrilled to extend our partnership with Hero MotoCorp for a further three years, and we are delighted they share our passion for innovation.
“Thanks to the vision of Pawan Munjal, the creation of the Hero Challenge has taken golf and our global stars to some iconic locations around the world.
“We are extremely excited to be expanding this concept with additional events over the next three years as we take the Hero Challenge to some spectacular new locations.”
The first Hero Challenge was held in 2016 at The Grove prior to the British Masters.
Earlier this year, the Hero Challenge welcomed its first female star when Solheim Cup and Ladies European Tour winner Charley Hull teed it up at the action-packed event in Liverpool, in front of the iconic Liver Building.
The Hero Challenge is broadcast around the world with a household reach of more than 125 million for each event and is also live streamed on the European Tour’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Hero MotoCorp also sponsors the Indian Open, a co-sanctioned event with the Asian Tour, since it became part of the Tour’s schedule in 2015.
Hero has also supported the Women’s Indian Open since 2010, and sponsored India’s domestic women’s professional tour.
•To find out more about van Rooyen’s victory in the Hero Challenge click here.