GOLF

Hong Kong Golf Club to underwrite Open prize-money

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 August, 2013, 11:29am

The Hong Kong Golf Club has agreed to underwrite part of the US$1.3 million prize-money for this year's Open to save the prestigious tournament from further embarrassment.

General manager Keith Williams said yesterday the club would dip into its pockets to "ensure the Hong Kong Open can continue".

A deal has been struck with the co-sanctioning European and Asian Tours and the Hong Kong Golf Association, with the Open now moving to December 5-8. Prize money has been slashed US$700,000 from last year's US$2 million, as reported exclusively in last weekend's Sunday Morning Post.

The tournament has suffered one blow after another, being unable to attract a sponsor, relying on government handouts and losing its prized place on the European Tour's end-of-season "Race To Dubai".

Its new slot in December also means it will go head to head with a number of other more lucrative tournaments around the world.

"Given the importance of the Open to enhancing Hong Kong's international exposure and prestige, and its special status as the only international sporting event held in the same venue - Fanling courses - for over half a century, HKGC is doing everything it can to preserve this prestigious sports heritage," Williams said. "We are pleased to underwrite part of the prize fund this year to ensure the Hong Kong Open can continue."

It is believed to be the first time the club has acted as an underwriter, but the Sky Lake Golf Club in Vietnam is bankrolling a tournament next month and the Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin has also underwritten tournaments.

The tournament will now form part of the 2014 Race to Dubai and be one of the closing events on the 2013 Asian Tour.

"We shall continue to work towards securing a title sponsor for this year, as well as future editions of the Hong Kong Open," said Keith Waters, chief operating officer of the European Tour.