Ever since the chief executive of the US Tour Tim Finchem unveiled the new FedEx Cup system, in which players compete through the season for the right to play in a grand, end-of-year showcase, fears have lingered over the implications for the European Tour. Enormous prize funds and bags of world ranking points to play for week-in, week-out, Stateside threaten to attract the world?s best players away from the European Tour?s most prestigious events.

However, these fears were relieved to some extent yesterday as BMW announced an extension to its sponsorship of the European Tour?s flagship event, the PGA Championship, until 2010. BMW has also pledged to increase the prize fund to almost £3 million with the winner picking up a record cheque for just under half a million pounds.

This news comes as a timely boost to the Tour as we wait to see how the introduction of the FedEx Cup shapes the schedules of the world?s best players. It is hoped BMW?s financial support will ensure that the PGA Championship continues to attract a world-class field despite taking place during the same week as the US Tour?s Crowne Plaza International at Colonial and just two weeks after the Players Championship.

England’s David Howell (pictured) defends his title on Wentworth’s West Course from May 24-27.