Macau: Four-time Major champion Ernie Els has confirmed his return to this year’s US$900,000 Venetian Macau Open at the Macau Golf and Country Club.
During a sparkling career, the South African has won 70 professional career titles, a tally he will aim to add to in Macau from October 23-26.
On his debut in the Venetian Macau Open last year he tied for third place at 12-under-par 272, four shots behind the champion, Scott Hend of Australia.
Els, who is an Asian Tour Honorary Member and International Ambassador, is now expanding his business interests to incorporate golf course architecture. Ernie Els Design is a Full Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
As well as winning the US Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open Championship in 2002 and 2012, Els was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.
He is relishing the opportunity to compete in Macau, this time while sporting the logo of his new sponsor, The Venetian Macao.
“I’m excited to be coming back to Macau. I had a great time last year and the tournament was extremely well organised. The city is amazing with world class hospitality and entertainment. I had my 44th birthday there last year which was fantastic fun. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I’ve recently become a global ambassador for The Venetian Macao and will be working with them on a number of golf initiatives over the forthcoming months.
“I have always enjoyed playing in this part of the world and especially to play at the Venetian Macau Open. I know that Lee (Westwood) and Colin (Montgomerie) have won here in the past and I hope to emulate them and lift the trophy this year,” said Els.
The Venetian Macau Open is jointly organised by Macau Sport Development Board of Macau SAR Government (MSDB) and the Golf Association of Macau. It is sanctioned by both the Asian Tour and the Golf Association of Macau, and promoted by IMG. The Venetian Macao is the title sponsor of the event for a third successive year.
Jose Tavares, President of MSDB, said: “We are honoured to welcome Ernie Els to Macau again this October. He is one of the world’s greatest golfers and having a player of his profile at our event is a true reflection of how the Venetian Macau Open continues to grow in stature.”
Charles Lo, President of the Golf Association of Macau, added: “We are very happy that Ernie Els will be playing in Macau again this year. He is a living legend in the world of golf and a lot of golfers look up to him. I hope our players can make good use of this opportunity to learn from a true champion.”
Gunther Hatt, Executive Vice President of Operations for Sands China Ltd, believes the participation of Els will help generate increased profile and interest for the tournament and the city of Macau itself.
He said: “The tournament is a popular stop on the Asian Tour schedule. Ernie’s presence will definitely attract a crowd and it will be an opportunity for all to experience Macau’s wonderful hospitality and entertainment. Having a world class golfer such as Els in Macau further enhances Macau’s reputation as a top destination in Asia for sport, leisure and business travel.”
Grant Slack, IMG Senior Vice President, added:“The Macau Open is now recognised as the city’s premier annual sporting event and IMG has been involved with the tournament since 2011. Every year the tournament continues to grow with greater prize money and a stronger field. This is a tournament the players want to play and the participation of Ernie Els is a great reflection of the Venetian Macau Open in terms of competition quality and reputation.”
Since its inauguration in 1998, the tournament has been graced by Major champions Nick Faldo, Padraig Harrington, Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam and Mark O’Meara as well as European Ryder Cup stalwarts Westwood and Montgomerie.
This year’s event boasts a total prize fund of US$900,000, an increase of 12.5% compared to last year.
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