Embarrassing there's no Singapore Open this year: Han

Embarrassing there's no Singapore Open this year: Han
Last year's Singapore Open winner, 19-year-old Matteo Manassero.

MACAU - For local golf fans, the months of October and November usually mean that the Singapore Open is just around the corner.

Not so this year, as the tournament is a no-show for the first time since 2005.

And Asian Tour executive chairman Kyi Hla Han, widely regarded as Asia's top golf official, said that Singapore should be embarrassed for not being able to host a single professional men's golf tournament this year.

The former pro did not pull his punches when The Straits Times asked him about the cancellation of this year's Singapore Open, the Republic's premier golf event.

He added that Singapore fans and players deserve better, and that the cancellation does not help the nation's reputation as a burgeoning sports hub.

Said Han, who won the Open back in 1994: "From being one of Asia's major tournaments to nothing - for me, it's bad planning from organisers.

"Singapore itself should be embarrassed, considering Thailand has four tournaments, Malaysia has three and Indonesia has two on the Asian Tour."

Singapore Open officials have struggled to find a title sponsor to replace British bank Barclays, which chose not to extend its seven-year deal after it had ended last year.

In July, promoter World Sport Group (WSG) announced that the event - once Asia's richest national Open, with a prize purse of US$6 million (S$7.6 million) - will go on hiatus till "early 2014".

The move from the usual November slot, it added, is to stay clear of inclement weather, which has disrupted recent editions at the Sentosa Golf Club.

Besides the Singapore Open, the $400,000 Asian Tour-sanctioned ISPS Handa Singapore Classic was also not extended at the end of its three-year contract last year, again owing to a lack of sponsors.

Han was speaking on the sidelines of the US$800,000 Venetian Macau Open, which tees off today at the picturesque Macau Golf and Country Club, headlined by four-time Major winner Ernie Els.

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