LPGA Tour seeks sponsors to stage elite women’s golf tournament in Hong Kong
- China’s Feng Shanshan says the world’s leading women are eager to play in the city
- The men’s Hong Kong Open recently won Asian Tour awards for best tournament and best golf course
The world’s leading women’s golf circuit, the US LPGA Tour, is interested in staging a tournament in Hong Kong, with the only obstacle being sponsorship.
Top LPGA Tour players such as China’s Feng Shanshan are eager to play a sanctioned event in the city, according to Hong Kong Golf Association chief executive Danny Lai, with the men’s Honma Hong Kong Open this week winning two Asian Tour awards – best tournament and best golf course.
“While Hong Kong would be an ideal location for an LPGA tournament, our event locations are driven by our title sponsors,” the LPGA told the South China Morning Post in an email statement. “The LPGA would be interested in speaking to companies who are headquartered or do business in Hong Kong in order to bring an official LPGA event there.”
The LPGA Tour boasted a 34-tournament schedule in 2018 in 14 countries, with its autumn Asian swing featuring a US$2.1 million event in Shanghai.
The tour also visited Singapore and South Korea but a tournament in Malaysia in late September was cancelled because of a change in government funding. According to Lai, players are eager for Hong Kong to move in.
Feng, a former world number one who is China’s best-ever golfing export, male or female, was in Hong Kong over the weekend and Lai said she hoped Hong Kong could be part of the LGPA Tour in the near future.
“Shanshan mentioned that the LGPA would like to come to Hong Kong,” said Lai. “When one of the tournaments was cancelled and they were talking about Hong Kong being a possibility the players eyes lit up, according to Shanshan.
“They would love to come to Hong Kong because it is an exciting city and we have great golf courses. Hong Kong is definitely under the radar.”
A women’s tournament in Hong Kong would give local golfer Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching a chance to play in front of home fans. Chan is the first Hongkonger to earn a place on the elite LPGA Tour and will compete in her second season on the circuit in 2019.
Apart from the HKGA courses in Fanling, the stunning Clearwater Bay Golf Club hosts the PGA Tour Series-China Clearwater Bay Open, which this year was held in October.
On Sunday, Hong Kong’s status as a top-class venue for golf tournaments was strengthened with Asian Tour players voting the Hong Kong Open as the best tournament of 2018 and the Championship course at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling as the best golf course of the year.
The awards prompted a flood of praise on social media from the likes of former US PGA champion Rich Beem, European Tour rookie of the year Shubhankar Sharma and 2014 Hong Kong Open champion Scott Hend.
The LPGA Tour’s interest and accolades come amid nervous times for the HKGA, with the Hong Kong government set to announce results of its review into solving the city’s chronic housing problem. One of the solutions put forward is to bulldoze part of all of Fanling to build public housing.
India’s Sharma tweeted: “This is an amazing course, where I would love to come and play 10 in 10 times. Apart from being a classy golf course, it adds to the overall lustre of the city, by hosting one of the oldest golf tournament in the world. Nothing more iconic can replace it in the Hong Kong city.”
Ah the veranda, simply the most amazing spot in all of golf, need to plan a trip there in 2019!!! Miss it dearly, cheers all!!!
— Rich Beem (@beemerpga) December 18, 2018
Beem responded to Sharma’s tweet by writing: “I agree with Shubhankar, one of my top 5 courses in the world to play. Right in front of you, but it’ll hammer you if you don’t respect it.”
The American then reflected on the overall ambience of the HKGA facilities, particularly its famous verandah – from where four-time winner Miguel Angel Jimenez would love to watch the golfing world go by while smoking a cigar after his round.
“Ah the veranda,” Beem wrote. “Simply the most amazing spot in all of golf, need to plan a trip there in 2019!!! Miss it dearly, cheers all!!!”
Australian Hend wrote of Hong Kong’s awards: “I voted for it..... there is no other course in the same hemisphere that can compete with it on the Asian Tour Schedule..... The City, The Course and the Members make it what it is..... AWESOME.....”