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Open Championship golf signs up Mastercard as sponsor

Martin Laird of Scotland holds his Mastercard-backed prize at the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational Golf tournament
Image caption Mastercard has had a strong global affiliation with golf for a number of years

Credit card company Mastercard has signed up as a sponsorship partner for the Open Championship golf tournament.

This year's event gets under way at the Royal St George's course at Sandwich in Kent on Thursday.

Mastercard sponsors a number of other sporting events, including the Uefa Champions League football tournament and the 2011 Rugby Union World Cup.

The golf deal with the R&A club, which organises the Open, starts in 2012 and will last for a four-year period.

R&A director Mike Tate said Mastercard's long-standing association with golf across the world, such as the Arnold Palmer Invitational, had made it "a natural partner".

The Open Championship is the oldest major golf championship in the world and the only major hosted outside the US.

It is attended by 200,000 spectators each year and has global media exposure in 187 countries.

This year's tournament, from 14 to 17 July, will see South African Louis Oosthuizen look to defend the trophy he lifted at St Andrews.

Many eyes will be on Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland, who thrilled spectators when he won the US Open last month.

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