AT last. At long last.
That’s the feeling one got on hearing the news that a statement on the resuscitation of the Malaysian Open golf championship is to be made tomorrow.
It is understood that a press conference has been called for tomorrow morning at Kota Permai Golf & Country Club in Kota Kemuning, where the Malaysian Golf Association, the custodians of the tournament, will detail a structured sponsorship deal for the event that involves several donors.
A source close to the negotiations told TeeUp that there would be no single title sponsor, but rather that the tournament would be underwritten by several brands.
It has been pencilled in to be played at Kota Permai from March 5 to 8 and figure on the Asian Tour calendar, as opposed to both the Asian Tour and European Tour, as it was prior to the event being shelved in 2016.
As previously reported in TeeUp, the prize money is said to be worth US$1mil, with the winner expected to receive US$180,000.
The impending announcement comes at a time of growing optimism and much discussion within the golf industry that the Malaysian Open will indeed make a comeback next season.
Earlier attempts by the MGA to get the tournament off the ground came to no avail, despite several indications and murmurings that they were on the brink of securing sponsorship for it.
The Malaysian Open has not been held since 2015 when Maybank Berhad sponsored it for the last time, prior to them going on their own.
They established the US$3mil Maybank Championship, an event co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour, and which has grown into one of the most popular tournaments in the region.
The loss of that kind of sponsorship hurt the tournament and the Malaysian Open was left to lie idle, until now.
And while the event is likely to carry prize money of US$1mil, which is way off the US$3mil it enjoyed in its heyday, it could still easily find a slot on the Asian Tour, which has events worth US$300,000 on its schedule.
Indeed, there are tournaments on the European Tour that are worth US$1mil or so, and it would not be out of place on that circuit either.
Notwithstanding this, it is also understood the Malaysian Open could be co-sanctioned along with the Japan Golf Tour or the Australasian Tour.
The return of the event would be most welcome for a good number of reasons.
The local industry suffered a massive setback of sorts when the US PGA Tour confirmed that
the US$7mil CIMB Classic, a fixture on their schedule for nine years, would no longer have a place last season.
And the Sime Darby LPGA Tournament also lost its slot on the annual calendar.
So, as we prepare for the MGA to bring us a little cheer and make an announcement to confirm the return of the Malaysian Open, it’s a fact that it would do the industry a world of good. It is certainly something that would get the New Year started on a real welcome and healthy note.