Woods not swayed as organisers splash out million-dollar bid
Even a US$1 million bid was not enough to attract world number one Tiger Woods to next month's Perrier Hong Kong Open Championship.
This was the appearance money the organisers were willing to spend on signing up golf's biggest name for the SAR's oldest sporting event. They also went in search of Spanish teenage sensation Sergio Garcia and the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
'It didn't work this time. But be assured that we will get Woods within the next 24 months . . . either for next year's tournament or the year after,' said Steven Feuerstein, president of ProSport Management Ltd, promoters of the 41st Hong Kong Open.
According to Feuerstein, the reason Hong Kong fans will be unable to see Woods in action at Fanling from November 25-28 is because the American star will be playing in a private event at the time.
'He will be playing in the World Cup in Kuala Lumpur the week before our tournament. But unfortunately he is committed to going elsewhere after that,' said Feuerstein yesterday.
Considering that the prize money for the Hong Kong Open is only US$300,000 and the fact that title sponsors Perrier only signed up, once again, just a fortnight ago, Feuerstein's bid for Woods seems ambitious.
'But this is the way it works. We put out bids for every major player . . . about 100 bids budgeted at around U$10 million went out. I'm still looking at eight other American Ryder Cup stars,' Feuerstein said.
The players so far confirmed are Welshman Ian Woosnam, the 1991 US Masters champion who also won the Hong Kong Open in 1987, Mark McNulty of Zimbabwe, England's Peter Baker and Patrik Sjoland of Sweden.
'Baker and McNulty will be playing in the World Cup and will be arriving here after that. We have targeted another 10 stars who will be playing in Malaysia,' Feuerstein said.
Organisers are hopeful the Open will be a big draw because that week is relatively free on the international calendar.
'We are up against the Casio Open in Japan and a four-man skins game in the US. It is a fairly reasonable week and we are confident of securing some more big names,' added Feuerstein.
Meanwhile, a huge sigh of relief was felt after Perrier decided to continue their long relationship with the Hong Kong Open.
Perrier pulled out as title sponsors in March this year, but climbed back on board after the parent company in France decided to review its sports promotion policy.
'We had another title sponsor lined up, but we went with Perrier after we found a way to stay married,'said Feuerstein.
Apart from Perrier, the Hong Kong Open has 21 other 'official'sponsors, ranging from cars (Jaguar) to cigars (Davidoff).