HSBC, one of the world’s largest financial services organisations, is to sponsor the only individual match play championship in women’s golf and has pledged a winner’s cheque of $500,000, the highest in the history of the LPGA.
The inaugural HSBC Women’s World Match Play Championship will be played over the spectacular Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, New Jersey, 30 June – 3 July 2005. It will be the first official match play tournament to be played in America in half a century.
Eligibility for the top class 64-woman field will be based on the leading 60 professionals on the ADT Official LPGA Money List (at 20 June 2005), the U.S. Women’s Open Champion, leader of the Japanese LPGA Money List (at 13 June 2005), plus two special invitations by the sponsors. Players will compete in 18 holes of head-to-head match play golf culminating in a grand final on Sunday 3 July.
The five-year deal between HSBC, tournament organisers IMG and the LPGA includes a total annual prize fund from HSBC of US$2 million. The HSBC Women’s World Match Play Championship, the only official match play tournament on the LPGA schedule, will be covered live in the US by CBS and the Golf Channel. Internationally, the championship will be seen in major markets around the world with a cumulative reach of an estimated 100 million homes.
Stephen Green, group chief executive of HSBC Holdings plc, in the US to make the announcement, said, “The HSBC Women’s World Match Play represents another significant investment in golf by HSBC. As the world’s most international bank, it is fitting that we are involved in a sport with truly global appeal. Golf is well established in developed markets and suits the tastes and lifestyles of many HSBC customers. And it is a booming and aspirational sport in regions like Asia, where our Group was founded, and which remains crucial to our business.
“Golf among women is experiencing equally powerful growth, with nearly one and a half million new women players taking up the game in the US since the turn of the millennium. We are delighted to become part of this and we hope that by offering the highest winner’s cheque in LPGA history, the HSBC Women’s World Match Play proves an important milestone in the development of women’s golf.
“The game very much mirrors HSBC’s character and how we like to do business. Internationalism, inclusiveness and integrity are as much characteristics of the sport as they are of HSBC and we are proud of our association with the game.”
Ty Votaw, the LPGA Commissioner, welcomed the new championship. “The drama of match play, coupled with the participation of the world’s top female golfers at a superb new tournament venue is certain to create a thrilling event for fans in the Metropolitan New York area and around the globe. I‘d like to thank IMG for conceiving the event and HSBC for lending their support to what I am confident will become one of the most exciting and popular tournaments on the LPGA schedule.”
“I‘d like to congratulate HSBC on their new tournament,” said Annika Sorenstam, leader of the ADT Official LPGA Money List for the last four years. “I‘ve heard what a great event the men’s HSBC World Match Play is in England, so I‘m really looking forward to ours. I really love match play — it should be a lot of fun.”
Laura Davies, four-time Major winner and leader of the European Tour Order of Merit in 2004, added, “I‘m really delighted there will be a match play event on the LPGA schedule this year. I love the cut and thrust of match play, it really suits my game. I won the last one we had at Gleneagles — I just hope I qualify!”
Andrew Hampel, senior corporate VP, IMG, added: “IMG welcomes HSBC’s commitment to the Women’s World Match Play Championship which complements the bank’s support of the men’s World Match Play Championship in England. We are confident that this new event and its match play format will prove as popular and enduring in the US as the men’s version has been over the past 41 years in the UK.”
Commenting on the selection of Hamilton Farm Golf Club as the venue for the inaugural HSBC Women’s World Match Play Championship, the club’s owner, Dennis Townsend said, “We are delighted and thrilled that a worldwide audience will see Hamilton Farm and that the world’s best women golfers will experience the beauty of the Highlands Course, where the challenging greens, dramatic bunkering and rolling terrain will test the nerves of the eventual champion. Hamilton Farm looks forward to welcoming everyone to the inaugural championship.”
Hamilton Farm www.hamiltonfarmgolfclub.com.