Prize money for next year’s UBS Hong Kong Open is to soar by 66 per cent to a massive US$2 million, title sponsor UBS has announced.
It means the 2006 winner will take home a first prize of US$333,330 – one of the biggest in Asia.
The increase will cement the tournament’s status as one of the jewels in the crown of Asian golf. It will also mean that, since 1999, prize money for the event has gone up by more than 560 per cent – a staggering rise.
UBS has already initiated a 50 per cent increase in prize money for the 2005 tournament, the first year of its four-year sponsorship agreement. Players this year are competing for a total purse of US$1.2 million with the winner collecting US$200,000.
“The increase in prize money in 2006 firmly underlines our commitment to golf in the region and the UBS Hong Kong Open in particular,” said Kathryn Shih, the chief executive of UBS Hong Kong Branch.
“We are delighted to be so closely associated with a tournament of such great history and tradition and we believe this pledge of greater support will help the event become even more firmly established in the world golfing calendar.”
UBS Hong Kong Open promoter Parallel Media Asia was delighted with the announcement.
“This huge increase in prize money is fantastic news for the players, fans and everyone else connected with the UBS Hong Kong Open,” said Martin Capstick, vice-president of sales and marketing for Asia-Pacific.
“UBS have a vision to turn what is already a great tournament into something truly exceptional and we at PMA share that goal.
“We are committed to attracting even more of the top players to the UBS Hong Kong Open and providing fans with some of the best sporting entertainment to be found anywhere in Asia. This increase in prize money is a huge step in that direction.”
The tournament is Hong Kong’s oldest professional sporting event, having started in 1959, and has been held every year at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling.
Eight Major champions – including Greg Norman, Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson and Jose Maria Olazabal – are among the list of illustrious winners.
The prize money increase was welcomed by Iain Valentine, chief executive of the Hong Kong Golf Association.
“The UBS Hong Kong Open is already one of the most prestigious tournaments in Asia, with a heritage that others strive to match and a history that is unparalleled in the region,” he said.
“The prize money increase, allied to this rich and varied history, takes the tournament into another league.”
Adding to the UBS Hong Kong Open’s prestige has been the Government’s decision to award it the coveted “M” mark status – meaning it receives official support as a sports event that has international significance and brings economic, social and cultural benefits to the SAR.