Hong Kong Open

Cage home dwellers a worthier cause than Rory McIlroy

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 September, 2012, 12:31am


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The Hong Kong Open is a professional golf tournament with a long and distinguished history.

Rory McIlroy is a young golfer with vast ability and charisma. He has the professional golfing world at his feet, and deservedly so.

It is therefore clear why the Hong Kong Golf Association, and its estimable chief executive Iain Valentine, should wish McIlroy to attend the event in December to defend the title he won last year, and accordingly why the government has been approached to underwrite this venture ("HK Open in plea for double funding", September 13).

It is altogether less clear why it should be thought appropriate that the Hong Kong taxpayer should be asked to reward this young man (and his management company) to the tune of the advertised US$2 million simply to walk through the doors of the Hong Kong Golf Club and to stick a tee peg in the ground.

If a private-sector sponsor considers it prudent to pay silly amounts in appearance money, that is entirely a matter for its own commercial judgment.

Nor does one begrudge McIlroy the monetary largesse which frequently is showered upon him by corporate sponsors with apparently nothing better to do with shareholder funds.

However, for the government to use public funds for such a purpose is quite another matter, and in my view there can be no justification whatever for so doing.

Our Hong Kong Open will continue with or without McIlroy.

No doubt his presence would add to the gate, and to the interest of the tournament, but his participation cannot reasonably be regarded as benefiting Hong Kong in any permanent or quantifiable way.

Accordingly may I suggest that if, as reported, McIlroy (and his management company) offers to grace the Hong Kong Open conditional upon payment of what, upon any rational basis, is an obscene and entirely unjustified amount of money, then as a matter of principle such an offer should be firmly and pointedly declined.

It strikes me that the US$2 million in public funds which now is sought to be added to this young man's already overflowing coffers usefully could be redirected to some more obviously worthy Hong Kong cause: what about Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying knocking down a few caged homes for starters?

William Stone, Sheung Shui