Macau Open set to make return in September
The Macau Open is set to tee off once again, with casino money believed to be spinning the wheels behind a multimillion-dollar operation.
Tournament promoters and the Asian Tour are on the verge of signing a new deal that will see the popular event return after a one-year break.
'The Macau Open will probably be held in September,' a spokesman from the Macau Sports Development Board (SDB) said. 'We are still waiting for further details from the promoters and will make an announcement when things are confirmed.'
The tournament was cancelled last year after the Macau government-run SDB pulled the plug due to the high costs of running the event - estimated to be HK$10 million - and the failure to find a backer with deep pockets.
It is now believed a title sponsor has been found. Unconfirmed reports state casino operator Galaxy Entertainment, owners of the newly opened Galaxy Macau on the Cotai strip, is among the contenders.
'The Asian Tour has been in discussions with the Macau Open and talks are currently on-going to have the prestigious tournament on our schedule,' an Asian Tour official said yesterday.
The tournament could also have a new home, with Caesars Golf Macau, the semi-private 18-hole course on the southern end of the Cotai strip, a candidate to host the four-day event, slated for mid-September. The event was previously held at the Macau Golf and Country Club on Coloane.
'We are looking at all options now [venues] and will make an announcement soon,' said a Macau official.
The cost of hiring the Macau Golf and Country Club had also played a part in the decision to cancel the event last year with organisers complaining they had to pay a sizeable sum to hire the private club.
'This will be the fourth new event on our tour this year,' said an Asian Tour spokesman. 'It brings the number of tournaments to 27, up from 25 last year.'
The tour last week announced the US$750,000 K.J. Choi Invitational would make its debut in Incheon in October, while the other new additions were the US$300,000 Panasonic Open, played in New Delhi in April, and the US$750,000 Indonesian Masters in Jakarta, also in April.
The Macau Open offered a pot of US$500,000 in 2009 when it was won by Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant.
The tournament has featured a number of big-name players, including Padraig Harrington, Steve Elkington, Fred Couples, Colin Montgomerie, who claimed the title in 2003, and Lee Westwood, the winner in 1999. China's elder statesman of golf, Zhang Lianwei, has been the most successful player, winning back-to-back titles in 2001-02.
The estimated cost, in HK$, of running the Macau Open
- US$500,000 was the prize pot for the 2009 tournament