PETALING JAYA: LPGA Malaysia, one of the country’s premier golf tournaments, has been dealt with a massive blow after Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) announced that it was pulling out as the title sponsor.
The staging of the ninth edition, slated for Sept 27-30, could be in major doubt unless the event organisers IMG are able to bring in another conglomerate to back the US$1.8mil (RM7.16mil) tournament.
YSD’s decision to cease sponsorship just four months before the tournament has certainly come as a surprise.
The event has been part of the 34-tournament list when LPGA released their Tour schedule for 2018 in December last year and no amendment was made, as of yesterday.
The meet was supposed to serve as the opener of a seven-event Asian Swing which is played across South Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan in the final quarter of the season.
YSD had been the event’s sole main sponsor since the tournament’s inception in 2010.
It has since renewed their commitments three times, each on a three-year deal basis.
The latest agreement is supposed to end this year.
YSD chief executive officer Yatela Zainal Abidin, in a statement yesterday, said YSD decided to pull the plug on LPGA Malaysia and intends to channel its resources into sports development programmes instead.
“We are proud and privileged to have partnered the LPGA and IMG over the years to bring a world class event to Malaysian shores,” she said.
“After eight successful years of supporting the tournament, we have decided to focus on providing a stepping stone for talented youths to be trained and excel in golf and other sports, in tandem with one of our strategic thrusts as a Foundation.
“This is the same rationale that underpinned our decision to move our focus from supporting the Sime Darby FC (that withdrew from Malaysian second-tier Premier League this season) to the Sime Darby Football Development Programme, which provides formal training and other opportunities to young talents.”
Last year’s tournament was won by American Cristie Kerr.