Men's top-flight golf drought ends

Men's top-flight golf drought ends
Singapore fans wil be treated to top-level competition once again
Among those who will compete are Australia's Brett Rumford, a five-time European Tour winner.

SINGAPORE - After almost 18 months without a marquee men's golf event, Singapore fans are set to be treated to top-level competition once again.

The Championship at Laguna National, an event co-sanctioned by both the European and Asian Tours, will tee off for the first time from May 1-4 at Laguna's Masters Course.

The US$1.5 million (S$1.9 million) showpiece aims to fill the void left by the Singapore Open, which has been on hiatus since December 2012 because of a lack of sponsors.

But the sport's packed calendar and a short lead-up time before the tournament means that headline acts like Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson will not be on show next month.

Among those who will compete are Australia's Brett Rumford, a five-time European Tour winner, and three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Thongchai Jaidee from Thailand.

Some of the European Tour's rising talents will also make the trip, including British amateur champion Garrick Porteous, who is playing at the Masters this week, and American Peter Uihlein, once the world's top-ranked amateur.

The 156-strong field will also feature six Singaporeans - including veteran pros Mardan Mamat and Lam Chih Bing.

The Straits Times understands that while there is no commitment to host the tournament on a multi-year deal at the moment, organisers are looking at this year's response to determine whether they should bring a bigger and better event in the future.

"It's a bit of a tragedy that Singapore had no men's golf competition for quite some time so our intention is to have a top event here on a regular basis," David Ciclitira, chairman of Parallel Media Group, the event's promoter, told the Straits Times yesterday.

"People, as will sponsors, get excited when they see a good tournament, on a good course, with good competitive play."

Laguna's last European Tour event was the 2007 Clariden Leu Singapore Masters. More recently, a Tiger Woods-led clinic in 2011 and a Korean LPGA event in 2012 were held on its revamped World Classic and Masters courses respectively, renowned for their unforgiving roughs and numerous water hazards.

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