Hong Kong Open takes on new look as Japanese golf manufacturer Honma replaces UBS as title sponsor
The deal ensures the historic tournament will maintain its US$2 million purse and that the world’s best will continue to grace Fanling
The Hong Kong Open will take on a new look when it returns to Fanling later this year, with Japanese golf equipment manufacturer Honma named as the new title sponsor of the historic tournament.
The deal sees the Open maintain its US$2 million purse, ensuring Hong Kong can continue to attract some of the world’s best players.
Honma replaces Swiss banking giant UBS, who had an on-again, off-again relationship with the event and whose latest three-year deal expired last year.
“Honma is proud to be named title sponsor of the Honma Hong Kong Open for the 2018 edition,” said Honma chairman Liu Jianguo.
“Honma and the Hong Kong Open are two unique organisations with a great history. We are excited about the increasing popularity of golf in Asia, with the number of golf fans in Asia growing by some 34 per cent over the past five years.”
Golf manufacturers have not traditionally sponsored tournaments and the deal could mean the presence of a larger Japanese contingent as the Open celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2018.
Kicking off on November 22, the 2018 Open marks the start of the European Tour season and is also sanctioned by the Asian Tour.
After record crowds last year, Hong Kong Golf Club captain Martin Hadaway says this year’s event will see a continued push to take golf to all Hongkongers.
“Over the last two years the tournament has made significant steps to make the Hong Kong Open accessible to everyone in Hong Kong, with free access on Thursday and Friday continuing in 2018,” Hadaway said.
Honma was established in 1959 and is one of the world’s leading premium golf brands. “Team Honma” features China’s Feng Shanshan, the world’s sixth-ranked woman, while the 146th-ranked Hideto Tanihara of Japan headlines the men’s contingent.
“We welcome Honma to the golf community in Hong Kong. Their sponsorship of the 2018 Honma Hong Kong Open is testament to their reputation as one of the leading brands in the golf industry and we look forward to celebrating the 60th anniversary of both organisations in November this year,” said Yoshihiro Nishi, the president of the Hong Kong Golf Association.
UBS had a long and at times tumultuous relationship with the Hong Kong Open, sponsoring the event between 2005 and 2012 before pulling out for the first time.
There was talk at various stages of the Swiss bank’s initial eight-year tenure of them cutting ties and prize money was reduced from US$2.75 million to US$2 million for the 2012 event.
UBS came back on board from 2015 to 2017, ending a tough time for the tournament and ensuring a host of big names have graced Fanling in the past three years. Prior to 2005, watch company Omega were the title sponsor.