Golf: All parties committed to continuation of HSBC event, says LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan

Two-time Major winner Chun In Gee of South Korea. The current three-year sponsorship cycle of the HSBC Women's World Championship came to an end on Mar 3, 2018.
Two-time Major winner Chun In Gee of South Korea. The current three-year sponsorship cycle of the HSBC Women's World Championship came to an end on Mar 3, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Today marks the end of the current three-year sponsorship cycle of the HSBC Women's World Championship, but LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan was confident it will not signal the conclusion of the tournament in Singapore.

The US$1.5 million (S$2 million) event was first held at the Tanah Merah Country Club in 2008 before it moved to its current location at the Sentosa Golf Club in 2013.

Last year's 10th edition drew a record 29,468 spectators and Whan was not losing sleep over the tournament's future.

He told The Sunday Times yesterday: "For the LPGA and HSBC, I have zero concerns about our ability to stay together. They really respect the Tour, the field we bring together for this event."

The invitational event regularly draws a world-class field. This year's roster includes 19 of the world's top 20 golfers and the five reigning Major champions.

Past superstars to have played here include Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and Tseng Ya-ni.

HSBC has been the title sponsor since the inaugural tournament.

While Whan said he could not speak on behalf of the British bank, he noted: "What I know is that this market is an important one for HSBC and that's why we play here.

"We love Singapore, I know they love Singapore. When we talk about extensions, we don't say this is the only market you can play in because if they see other business opportunities, markets that want to invest in this event, we want to be open to that.

"But I do know everything about this event works for us and HSBC."

HSBC referred ST's queries to a tournament spokesman who said: "As soon as we have a new champion, the LPGA together with HSBC will look to build on the very positive discussions already held and will make an announcement very shortly. For over a decade, we've been working in partnership to elevate the status of women's golf at every level and we look forward to that continuing."

Thailand's world No. 19 Moriya Jutanugarn said: "The fans here are great and we always want to come back to Singapore."

Two-time Major winner Chun In Gee of South Korea added: "The course is really nice, one of the best on Tour. It feels like a Major."

Earlier this year, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation announced a three-year sponsorship extension of the Singapore Open, a men's tournament co-sanctioned by the Asian and Japan Tours.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 04, 2018, with the headline 'All parties ready to commit to HSBC event, says Whan'. Print Edition | Subscribe