Hong Kong misses out on European Tour place

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The Hong Kong Open will not be on the schedule for the European Tour next season for the first time since 2001, Tour chiefs confirmed, dealing a blow to one of Rory McIlroy's favourite events.

The current $2 million UBS Hong Kong Open, which struggled to attract sponsors, comes at a crucial time in the campaign when places are decided in the end-of-season Race to Dubai.

However, it will not be in the 2013 European Tour schedule and will instead return for the opening stages of the 2014 Tour.

The tournament will take place in early December 2013, although that will be the 2014 season. Bulgaria and Turkey are set to be included in next season's schedule.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, who won the Hong Kong Open on Sunday, said: "It's a pity that the the tournament is going to happen next year and probably not count for 2013."

The 48-year-old, whose victory made him the oldest player to win on the European Tour, added: "Of course I would love to have the tournament on the 2013 schedule, of course."

Hours earlier Keith Waters, European Tour chief operating officer, said in a statement: "As the tournament is scheduled to be played after the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, which takes place next November, it will form part of the 2014 European Tour international schedule.

"Therefore it will not appear in the 2013 schedule when it is announced in Dubai next week. We will make an announcement about the precise date and any progress on the title-sponsor search in the New Year."

The Hong Kong Open, which was co-sanctioned this year between the European and Asian Tours, has been part of the European Tour schedule since the calendar year 2001.

World number one McIlroy, who described the Fanling event as one of his favourites, failed to make the cut this year. He was the defending champion.