the ladies professional golf association conquers asia through singapore

LPGA expanding its brand through Singapore

The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) is looking at expanding its brand through Singapore. This is because of the country’s strategic location as well as its strength in the financial markets.

The article below highlights the LPGA’s inroads into Asia.

Singapore, here we come – Lexus Cup and HSBC event underline LPGA’s faith in the Republic

Singapore is one of the most important markets in the quest of women golfers to conquer Asia.

The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) will, for the first time, make two three-week swings through Asia.

And the Republic will stage two top-draw tournaments in each period – the fourth edition of the Lexus Cup next month, and the second HSBC Women’s Champions in March.

Both boast stellar fields and are growing into highlight events on the Tour’s calendar outside its American base.

“Singapore represents one of the strongest financial markets anywhere in the world, not just in Asia,” said Chris Higgs, LPGA’s senior vice-president and chief operations officer, yesterday.

“So for the LPGA to have strategic locations for its brand to expand, Singapore is a logical market.”

He was speaking to reporters after a site recce of Singapore Island Country Club’s Bukit Course, which will host the Nov 28-30 Lexus Cup.

A Ryder Cup-style tournament, it will pit an Annika Sorenstam-captained Team International against a Pak Se Ri-led Team Asia for a total prize purse of US$1million (S$1.46 million).

The Lexus Cup will come after tournaments in Mexico and Florida next month.

This weekend though, the LPGA stages its first-ever event in China at Hainan Island – the Grand China Air LPGA.

The Tour then moves to South Korea for the Hana Bank Championship (Oct 31-Nov 2) and thereafter to Japan for the Mizuno Classic (Nov 7-9).

Next year, the Tour will stage an event in Thailand after the season-opener in Hawaii.

This will be followed by the highly-anticipated March 5-8 Women’s Champions event at Tanah Merah Country Club.

The US$2 million tournament will boast the globe’s 78 best women golfers, with world No 1 Lorena Ochoa returning to defend the title she won earlier this year.

Said Higgs, “We’ve evolved into two swings in Asia, whereas for most of the 1990s and the early part of 2000s, the LPGA would come to Asia only in the Fall for two or three weeks.

“This second swing creates the opportunity for two or three more events.”

That spells good news for Asia’s golf fans, and sponsors keen to increase their presence in the region.

Asia’s economic growth and the appetite for sports that it fuelled, combined with the increasing number of Asians like Pak and the upcoming Tseng Ya-ni on the Tour, kick-started the LPGA’s eastward expansion.

Of the 36 LPGA events this year, 25 are staged in the United States. Five others are in Asia, up from three in 2002 and four last year.

As part of LPGA’s plans to give Asian fans a team match play tournament like the Europe v America Solheim Cup, the Lexus Cup was started in 2005.

It will be returning to Singapore shores after a year’s absence.

The International and Asian teams will comprise their respective top four available players in the World Golf Rankings, and the top four from the LPGA’s Official Money List.

Two captain’s picks and two sponsor’s exemptions will be added to each team that will do battle at SICC’s undulating, par-71 Bukit Course.

The line-up will be confirmed only after the Korea Championship ends on Nov 2.

But it is understood Ochoa will give Singapore a miss, as the Mexican prefers a long off-season break.

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