LPGA, bank in talks to extend tie-up

LPGA, bank in talks to extend tie-up
Ai Miyazato of Japan lines up a putt on the eighth hole during round three of the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic at the Ocean Club course on February 7, 2015 in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

AS THE HSBC Women's Champions enters the final leg of its current three-year contract, both the organisers and LPGA Tour are optimistic about its future.

The US$1.4 million (S$1.9 million) tournament has attracted top golfers since the inaugural edition in 2008, including former world No. 1s Lorena Ochoa, Annika Sorenstam and American superstar Michelle Wie.

However, despite the tournament's establishment as a marquee event, the bank is reluctant to commit to the event's future until later this year.

It told The Straits Times yesterday: "All sponsorships are evaluated against bespoke criteria to ensure we measure our return on objectives.

That careful evaluation process is under way and will continue in the coming months to incorporate the 2015 tournament."

In 2012, when its previous three-year extension expired, HSBC announced a new deal in October and also moved the tournament from Tanah Merah Country Club to Sentosa Golf Club.

It is understood discussions with the LPGA Tour are already under way and have been positive, despite the bank trying to streamline its operations and cut costs in recent years.

The only LPGA Tour-sanctioned event in Singapore has proven a hit with fans and players themselves, who often praise the hospitality and warm welcome by spectators.

Former world No. 1 Tseng Ya-ni said: "This is one of my favourite tournaments every year.

I hope it stays here in Singapore."

Having set up roots here for almost a decade, the HSBC tournament has cemented its status as a crucial part of the golf calendar in this region, noted Robbie Henchman, senior vice-president of event organiser IMG Asia Pacific.

He also played down talk that it could be moved to Hong Kong, where the bank was founded.

He said: "They already have another event (the men's WGC-HSBC Champions in China since 2005) just two hours north."

This article was first published on Mar 5, 2015.
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