THE news that the Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) are close to announcing the return of the Malaysian Open has been welcomed, albeit with some degree of caution.
TeeUp broke the news last weekend that after a three-year absence the MGA, the custodians of the national open tournament, would soon secure the sponsorship needed to resurrect the event and announce its return.
While efforts to get confirmation of this development from the national association proved fruitless, a source close to the negotiations told TeeUp that the MGA was about to finalise an agreement with a local bank and earmarked August or September next year as the likely dates.
The Malaysian Open has not been held since 2015 when Maybank sponsored it for the last time, prior to going on their own.
The Malaysian financial institution has since established the US$3mil Maybank Championship, an event co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
It has grown to become one of the most popular golf tournaments in the region.
The source indicated that an announcement on the tournament was imminent and added that it was almost certain to be made after the holiday break.
According to the source, who chose to remain anonymous, the Malaysian Open will carry prize money of US$1mil.
Sukhvinder Singh, of the retailers Vin Golf, said it would be a “good move” if the Malaysian Open were to be brought back.
“It’s been three already since the tournament was last played and it would be really great if the MGA could get it back on track,” said Singh.
“Like all spheres of business, golf needs a boost every now and again, and the return of the Malaysian Open would be most welcome.”
ATG Watch managing director and sponsors of several local tournaments, including the Prudential Astro Masters and Carlsberg Classic, Tham Onn Chuan said the event held a special place in the hearts of Malaysians.
“This is our national open and people identify with it as such – we are Malaysians and it is the Malaysian Open.
“It is the tournament that carries the most pride for Malaysians,” added Tham, himself a handy amateur golfer.
“If the MGA could bring it back, and I really hope they do, it would be fantastic for the local industry, including our local professionals. “This would be another event for them to participate in and one they could use to pit their talents against other pros from other countries,” he added.
The ClubHouse magazine and online portal brand manager Murali Nair said he too welcomed the idea of the event’s return.
“It would be a huge move in the right direction by the MGA, if they could get the Malaysian Open on the calendar again,” he said.
“It’s been three years now and that’s too long. Hopefully it will be back next year.”
It is understood that the Malaysian Open would be sanctioned either by the Japan Golf Tour, the Australasian Tour or the Asian Tour, or all of them.
Last month the local industry took a hit when the US PGA Tour confirmed that the US$7mil CIMB Classic would no longer feature on their schedule after nine years.
The Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia was also called off earlier in the year.
Now with the MGA expected to announce the return of the ntional open, it would be a massive shot in the arm for the sport.
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