Golf: Laguna National to host S'pore's 1st marquee men's event in 18 months

After almost 18 months without a marquee men's golf event, Singapore fans are set to be treated to top-level competition once again, as The Championship at Laguna National - an event co-sanctioned by both the European and Asian Tours - will tee off f
After almost 18 months without a marquee men's golf event, Singapore fans are set to be treated to top-level competition once again, as The Championship at Laguna National - an event co-sanctioned by both the European and Asian Tours - will tee off for the first time from May 1-4 at Laguna's Masters Course. -- ST FILE PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

After almost 18 months without a marquee men's golf event, Singapore fans are set to be treated to top-level competition once again, as The Championship at Laguna National - an event co-sanctioned by both the European and Asian Tours - will tee off for the first time from May 1-4 at Laguna's Masters Course.

The US$1.5 million (S$1.9 million) showpiece aims to fill the void left by the Singapore Open, which has been on hiatus since December 2012 because of a lack of sponsors.

But the sport's packed calendar and a short lead-up time before the tournament means that headline acts like Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson will not be on show next month. Among those who will compete are Australia's Brett Rumford, a five-time European Tour winner, and three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Thongchai Jaidee from Thailand.

Some of the European Tour's rising talents will also make the trip, including British amateur champion Garrick Porteous, who is playing at the Masters this week, and American Peter Uihlein, once the world's top-ranked amateur. The 156-strong field will also feature six Singaporeans - including veteran pros Mardan Mamat and Lam Chih Bing.

The new event replaces the Ballantine's Championship, held in South Korea since 2008 but which could not find a suitable venue this year.

Keith Waters, chief operating officer for the European Tour, said: "It shows the strength of our relationship with Laguna National that they have been able to help us out at relatively short notice and we would therefore like to put on record our thanks to owner Peter Kwee and all his staff for their assistance."

Asian Tour chairman Kyi Hla Han added: "Singapore golf fans will enjoy having a major tournament back in the country. It will be fantastic for the finest players from both Tours to compete alongside Singapore's best golfers once again."