Top-class golf back next year

Top-class golf back next year

After a three-year hiatus, the Singapore Open golf showpiece is on course to return with a new title sponsor next year.

The Straits Times has learnt that a Japanese bank is set to step in for Britain's Barclays, which chose not to extend its seven- year deal in December 2012, a month after the competition was last held.

Sentosa Golf Club - the tournament's home since 2005 - confirmed it has been approached by promoter World Sports Group (WSG) to re-stage the event, once Asia's richest national Open with a US$6 million (S$8 million) prize purse.

A date either in January or February next year has been targeted, with the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour in talks to co-sanction the tournament.

WSG president (ASEAN & Australia) Mark Hardess told The Straits Times yesterday that an official announcement with "good news for Singapore golf" will be made at the end of this month.

While sources revealed the new prize pot will be less than US$2 million, Singapore Golf Association (SGA) president Bob Tan is confident Sentosa's lush Serapong course will still be able to draw the world's top golfers.

He said: "It is not about the prize money. The appearance fee is what gets the big names here, and I believe the organisers will do what it takes to put on a good show."

Since the Open was co-sanctioned by the Asian and European tours in 2009, elite players who have competed included Major winners Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson.

In 2012, a final-day crowd of more than 20,000 witnessed young gun Matteo Manassero's play-off win over former British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen.

It is believed that WSG, which purchased the rights to the Open from the SGA till 2017, was contractually bound to hold an event by next year.

A lack of sponsors has been the main reason for the tournament's hiatus, with organisers also wanting to move to a new date to stay clear of inclement weather during its usual November slot.

The 53-year-old tournament also took a break from 2002 to 2004 to look for sponsors.

Local pro Quincy Quek, who played in five Opens, welcomed the impending return of Singapore's premier golf tournament.

The 27-year-old said: "It's important for our country to have a top-tier competition of our own to showcase golf to more fans and sponsors.

"I always look forward to the Singapore Open because we don't get many opportunities to play in front of friends and family."

nsanjay@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Jan 7, 2015.
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