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SBD Global/November 6, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Hong Kong Open Struggles To Find Sponsorships To Keep Event Afloat

European Tour CEO George O'Grady warned that the Hong Kong Open "faces an uncertain future unless sponsors come to the party," as local institution HSBC said that "it was not interested in backing the tournament," according to James Porteous of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. O'Grady said that the European Tour could not "write cheques to sponsor Hong Kong," although it is the underwriter for next week's tournament at the Hong Kong Golf Club. The open was without a title sponsor until UBS agreed to return for one edition. Prize money is down to $2M from $2.75M, and organizers needed a HK$16M ($2.1M) handout from the government's Mega Events Fund, "most of which is believed to have gone to convincing Rory McIlroy to defend his title." The lack of business support for Hong Kong's oldest professional sporting event "has seen it lose its prominent place in the European Tour's calendar as the penultimate event in the Race to Dubai." HSBC "would seem a natural fit," but its Global Head of Sponsorship and Events Giles Morgan made it clear that "was not part of his plan." The bank "is focused on the 'S' in its name in terms of golf, having extended its title sponsorship of the WGC-HSBC Champions for three years on Sunday, and announcing it would be moving back to Shanghai." HSBC already sponsors the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, and the Hong Kong Open "is simply not high-profile enough for its strategy." Morgan said, "Sponsorship is a business investment, and we don't need to sponsor everything in golf, we need to sponsor flagship events" (SCMP, 11/6).
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