Prize money for the prestigious Hong Kong Open has been cut US$750,000 to US$2 million, organisers said on Thursday, blaming the state of the world economy.
It comes despite the tournament, one of the biggest in Asia, retaining sponsor UBS, the Swiss bank. This year’s Hong Kong Open is November 15-18.
“It’s one of these things that have happened because of the downturn of the world economy,” Hong Kong Golf Association chief executive Iain Valentine said, saying he did not expect it to affect the quality of the field.
Valentine said he was hopeful that stars such as Rory McIlroy, the world number one, will return to defend his title. The tournament is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours.
“The Hong Kong Open has a very unique place in the European Tour schedule of events and people like to play Hong Kong because of the golf course and because of Hong Kong in general, they just like coming here.”
The 23-year-old Northern Irishman, winner of the last year US Open and this year’s PGA Championship, is believed to attract large appearance fees.
Organisers are reportedly seeking HK$16 million from a Hong Kong government fund to assist the showpiece event, double what it received last year.