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HSBC to sponsor World Match Play Event

HSBC, the world's second largest bank, is to sponsor the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth Club, creating a first prize of £1million, the richest in the history of European and American golf.

The ten year deal from 2003-2012, with tournament founders and organisers International Management Group, includes a total annual prize fund of £2.3million.

To ensure its status as the world's premier match play championship, qualification will be based on a new ranking system, the 'HSBC Major Championships Ranking'. This will measure and rank players based on their performance at the year's four Major Championships. The 12 qualifying players will be:

* The defending champion (Ernie Els in 2003).
* The world Number One
* The ten leading players from the HSBC Major Championships Ranking.

The HSBC World Match Play Championship also remains the world's only match play event with all matches contested over 36 holes.

This year's inaugural HSBC World Match Play Championship will be held on October 16-19 at Wentworth Club's world famous West Course, where the 40th anniversary of the event will be celebrated.

Sir John Bond, HSBC Group Chairman, said: “Golf is one of the most popular and fastest growing sports worldwide. This sponsorship is an excellent fit with the geography of HSBC's business, and the lifestyles of our customers.

“The game has enormous appeal in both the developed and emerging markets HSBC serves. In the US, the world's largest golf market, there are some 37 million players. Meanwhile, in the UK, nearly three out of ten HSBC customers describe themselves as golf fans.

“In developing markets, interest in golf is also booming. Asia is already home to a third of the world's golfers, and in China the number of golf courses has grown from just eight to more than 130 in a little over ten years, with a further 60 courses under construction. Today, an estimated one million Chinese people play golf.

“We expect this sponsorship to give the HSBC brand excellent visibility around the world. Over 210 million people followed last year's championship at Wentworth Club; under HSBC colours and with a revitalised format, we aim to make this one of golf's premier championships.”

Andrew Hampel, IMG's Senior International Group Vice-President, added: “IMG welcome HSBC's commitment to the World Match Play Championship. Since Arnold Palmer won the first trophy in 1964, the World Match Play at Wentworth Club has become a special part of world golf.

“HSBC's ten year sponsorship allows us to continue to build the Championship and the first £1 million prize in European and US golf reflects the event's stature as the most prestigious match play tournament in the world.”

Defending champion Ernie Els sent a special message of support to the new HSBC World Match Play Championship, saying: “I want to congratulate HSBC for stepping in as new sponsors for the World Match Play, and for upping the first prize money to £1 million.

“It will be an unbelievable event and I can't wait to defend my title at Wentworth Club later this year."

Arnold Palmer winner of the first Championship in 1964 when he defeated England's Neil Coles, to win a first prize of £5000, said the Championship had been a fantastic event and he was delighted that it now had a 10 year sponsorship with HSBC to secure its continued success.

Julian Small the MD of Wentworth said how delighted they were that Wentworth would continue to be the home of the World Matchplay and welcomed HSBC as the new sponsors of the Championship.


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