Golf: SMBC extends Singapore Open deal for three more years

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation said it would be extending its title sponsorship of the Singapore Open for another three years, on Jan 17, 2018.
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation said it would be extending its title sponsorship of the Singapore Open for another three years, on Jan 17, 2018.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Singapore golf received a major boost on Wednesday (Jan 17), as Japanese company Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) announced that it will be extending its title sponsorship of the US$1 million (S$1.32 million) Singapore Open for another three years starting from next year.

The original three-year deal was due to expire after this year's edition, which is being held from Jan 18-21 on Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course.

Said SMBC senior managing executive officer Shosuke Mori: "We are very proud to be associated with the premier golf tournament in South-east Asia and our decision to extend our sponsorship represents SMBC's commitment to Singapore and Asia."

SMBC's decision will ease fears of a repeat of the situation from 2013 to 2015, when the Singapore Open was put on an enforced hiatus due to the lack of a sponsor after Barclays ended its partnership with the event in 2012.

There will be no change in the tournament's purse, which stays at US$1 million.

"The tournament's been running for three years now at $1 million but I don't think anybody thinks it's a $1 million prize money event. It doesn't look like a $1 million prize money event, it doesn't feel like a $1 million prize money event," said Patrick Feizal Joyce, tournament organiser Lagardere Sports' vice-president of golf in Asia.

"And for the players, they're not playing the SMBC Singapore Open for the prize money. They're playing because they want to win the Singapore Open."

The Serapong Course was recently ranked the 79th best course in the world by Golf Digest magazine, with the SMBC Singapore Open and Sentosa Golf Club named as the Asian Tour's best tournament and best course respectively for 2017.

This year's tournament - the 52nd edition - features Masters champion Sergio Garcia and 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen.

The Asian Tour-Japan Golf Tour co-sanctioned event has also continued to attract some of the top golfers in Asia, notably 2017 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Gavin Green and Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa.