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KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is to return as the main sponsor of The KLM Open on The 2004 European Tour International Schedule. The KLM Open will have an increased prize fund of 1,200,000 (minimum) and the tournament will be played on August 5-8 at a venue to be announced.
 
For KLM this represents the continuation of a long association with the tournament. KLM served as title sponsor from 1981 to 1990 inclusive, during which time Bernhard Langer (1984), Severiano Ballesteros (1986) and Jos Maria Olazbal (1989), all Major Champions, won the tournament.
 
Paul Gregorowitsch, KLMs Executive Vice President Commercial, said: We are delighted as a company to be continuing a long and happy association with The European Tour by returning as the main and title sponsor of The KLM Open. We recognise that this important tournament has grown in stature, and with The 2004 KLM Open, it is our intention to further enhance its place on The European Tour International Schedule. KLM also expects the number of passengers it transports to increase as a result of serving as the title sponsor.
 
Ken Schofield, Executive Director of The European Tour, said: The 2004 tournament will be the 85th edition of The KLM Open and, coincidentally, it will mark the year in which KLM celebrates its 85th birthday. The championship was first played in 1912 and since that time it has been won by many great players on courses that are both aesthetically beautiful and immensely challenging.
 
We welcome KLM back as title sponsors, and we look forward to another wonderful edition of this great championship unfolding next August.
 


Maarten Lafeber
 
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Maarten Lafeber will be the defending champion at The 2004 KLM Open following his success at Hilversumsche Golf Club, Hilversum, in October, when he became the first home winner in 56 years ' Joop Rhl won the national title in 1947 ' with a one stroke victory over Swedens Mathias Grnberg and Denmarks Sren Hansen..
 
Lafeber said: To get my first win on The European Tour in front of the Dutch public this year was a very special moment, and to hear that KLM has taken over the title sponsorship for next years tournament is fantastic news.
 
I know, from having spoken to friends and colleagues back home in the weeks after my win, that the interest in the tournament was huge, around 600,000 people watched it on television and it just goes to show that golf is booming in The Netherlands.
 
If my win helped a little in that respect and if, in turn, that helped motivate KLM to join in, then all the better. I know KLM sponsored the tournament in the past and to have such a prominent Dutch company involved once again can only be in everyones best interests.
 
Also, the fact that the date has moved back to its summer slot is great news. There was a great atmosphere this year in October but Im sure the Dutch public will come out in their thousands next August to make it even better and I am looking forward already to playing as the defending champion.
 
KLMs home base is Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, one of the worlds most modern airports. KLM forms the core of the KLM Group, other members being KLM cityhopper, and Transavia airlines. KLM and its partners serve over 400 cities in 78 countries on six continents.