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Boost for the Philippine Open

The Asian Tour has entered into a landmark five-year agreement with the National Golf Association of the Philippines (NG AP ) in a move to propel the Philippine Open into one of the region's flagship events.

Under the new partnership, the NG AP will entrust all commercial and media rights of the Philippine O pen , which is Asia 's oldest national Championship, to the Asian Tour till 2010.

Louis Martin , Chief Executive of the Asian Tour, hailed the tie-up as a giant step towards the future of the Philippine O pen and said it would be a realistic goal to raise prize money to over US$1 million in the coming years and telecast the event "live" across Asia .

"We are delighted to forge a strong alliance with the NG AP . Being Asia 's oldest national O pen , the Asian Tour believes the Philippine O pen should take its place as one of Asia 's most prestigious championships and we will work towards this shared goal of raising its profile and stature over the coming years," said Martin.

"With strong support from the corporate sector in the Philippines , we believe this can be achieved."

This year's Philippine O pen , which will celebrate its 90th edition, will be played from May 25-28 with a prize fund of US$200,000. The venue will be named at a later date.

Many famous names are inscribed on the Philippine O pen trophy including Peter Thomson of Australia, Carlos Franco of Paraguay, Chinese Taipei's Lu Liang-huan and Hsieh Min- nan , who captained Asia to two glorious victories in the Visa Dynasty Cup against Japan.

Legendary Filipino golfers Celestino Tugot and Ben Arda are the other prominent former champions where they are joined by 11 other local players, the last being Felix Casas in 2001, as former Philippine O pen winners. Last year, Adam Le Vesconte of Australia won the Philippine O pen , which was inaugurated in 1913.

In the past, other great names have regularly featured in the Philippine O pen , including Gary Player, Sam Snead and Kel Nagle.

Martin said that the Asian Tour would aggressively promote the Philippine O pen and stressed that the future of the Philippine O pen lies very much in the hands of Corporate Philippines as well. "We have been given a lot of support by the NG AP as well as many of the major corporations in the Philippines .

"Sponsorship is the lifeblood of professional golf and Corporate Philippines needs to be closely associated with their national O pen to ensure the Championship is staged successfully once again in May .

"The Philippine O pen is steep in history and tradition and there is no reason why it cannot enjoy the same stature and success as some of the region's other national Championships which are now offering over US$1 million in total prize money.

"Through the collective effort between the NG AP , the Asian Tour and the corporate sector in the Philippines , we hope to transform the Philippine O pen into a sporting extravaganza that the whole of the Philippines community can be proud of," said Martin.

March 27, 2006


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