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The Hong Kong Jockey Club

Hong Kong Golf Open moves to November to avoid another clash with International Races

Jockey Club was said to be furious when last year’s event took place on same day as the highlight of their season

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2017, 2:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2017, 10:48pm

Hong Kong is set for a busy month of consecutive major international sporting events at the end of the year – after the Jockey Club flexed its muscle to ensure there would be no repeat of last year’s controversial date clash between the UBS Hong Kong Golf Open and the Longines Hong Kong International Races.

This year’s golf tournament will take place on November 23-26, it was confirmed on Tuesday, with the city’s biggest horse-racing meeting on December 10.

And it is understood that organisers of the Formula E Hong Kong e-Prix are hoping soon to confirm that their event will be held on the weekend in between.

Last year, the Jockey Club was said to be furious behind the scenes after the golf took place in the same week as the HKIR, the flagship event on their calendar branded ‘the Turf World Championships’.

“[The HKIR] races attract horses from across the world as well as thousands of overseas visitors and several hundred international media,” said a Jockey Club spokesman in response to the news that the golf will be held earlier this year.

“Given the substantial international publicity that the HKIR creates for Hong Kong, it is naturally undesirable that any other sporting event should be scheduled at the same time.

“Indeed, the Club believes that it is in the best interest of all parties to avoid a date clash.

“We have shared our views with the Hong Kong Golf Association and the Hong Kong Golf Club and we are glad that the HKIR and the Hong Kong Open will be held on different dates this year, optimising the coverage of both events and the publicity generated for Hong Kong internationally.”

Last year, the most high-profile player at the golf, Justin Rose, high-tailed it to the races immediately after finishing his final round, a fact not missed by Jockey Club chief Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.

“I only can say the HKIR is the greatest show on turf and that includes the golf,” he said at the time. “And it looks like Justin Rose knows it, too.”

This year’s Open will be the first event on the 2018 European Tour season, just one week after the culmination of the 2017 season, the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Somewhat confusingly, the co-sanctioned event will also be one of the last events on the 2017 Asian Tour calendar.

Hong Kong Open likely to switch dates to avoid another clash with Hong Kong International Races

Unheralded Sam Brazel claimed his maiden European Tour title in a thrilling finish at last year’s Open.

“The UBS Hong Kong Open has been a permanent fixture on the European Tour for 16 seasons now so it is only fitting that it returns as the curtain-raiser for the 2018 season,” Ben Cowen, the European Tour’s director of international policy, said in a statement.

Kenneth Lam, captain of the Hong Kong Golf Club, was quoted as saying: “As host venue since its inauguration in 1959, the championship holds a very special place in the heart of our club.

“We have been delighted by the growth of the Hong Kong Open in recent times – we saw a record gallery of nearly 47,000 local and overseas fans over the four days last year – which has helped underline Hong Kong’s position as Asia’s World City.”

Harald Van Heel, president of the Hong Kong Golf Association, added: “The Hong Kong Golf Association is proud to witness the Hong Kong Open evolve from a local tournament to become the marquee golfing event set firmly in the Hong Kong sporting calendar.

“With the funding support from sponsors and the Hong Kong Government the UBS Hong Kong Open is now one of the major attractions for tourists.

“In 2017 we would like to bring the UBS Hong Kong Open closer to the Hong Kong people by bringing the community to the Open, showing that this is our tournament. A golf tournament that belongs to Hong Kong people.”