Four-time Major champion Ernie Els and six-time Asian Tour winner Scott Hend have confirmed their return to the picturesque Macau Golf & Country Club to compete for the coveted Venetian Macao Open title from October 15-18.
Organised by the Macao Sport Development Board of Macao SAR Government and the Golf Association of Macau, sanctioned by the latter and the Asian Tour and with The Venetian Macao® as the title sponsor for the fourth successive year, the 17th edition of the prestigious tournament will see Els challenge for the title for the third successive year.
The South African finished at a respectable tied 26th position last year after an impressive tied-3rd finish in his debut in 2013.
“I am looking forward to playing at the Venetian Macao Open for the third time, which is now a regular stop on my fall schedule. The course is in great condition and the weather is always pleasant during that time of year so it tends to bring out the best in a lot of golfers, myself included. I have been practising well and I stand a great chance to bring the trophy back to South Africa for the first time,” said the 45-year-old Johannesburg native, who is an Honorary Member and International Ambassador of the Asian Tour.
Hend is no stranger to the Venetian Macao Open, having won the title in 2013 and coming agonisingly close to repeating that feat a year later. The 42-year-old Australian won by three shots over current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Anirban Lahiri two years ago, but was dethroned by the same player after a nail-biting final-day shootout saw him settle for tied second place last season.
With Lahiri already confirmed to defend his title and fresh from an impressive tied fifth finish at the PGA Championship last week, there could be fireworks come October as the three world-class champions go head-to-head on the fairways of the Macau Golf & Country Club. Hend, who has had four top-10 finishes this season, commented:
“I was close to defending my title last year, but I couldn’t close it out. All credit to Anirban though, as he held his nerve and completed the job in hand. I am glad to have the opportunity again this year to have another crack at the title. It won’t be easy with Anirban playing so well lately, and of course, Ernie, who is a four-time Major champion, with all that experience, you can never count him out. I look forward to being back out there on that beautiful course.”
José Tavares, President of Macao Sport Development Board of Macao SAR Government (MSDB) is delighted with the return of the three fan favourites:
“Ernie, Anirban and Scott have provided us with so much excitement over the last few years, and helped put the Venetian Macao Open on the world stage in terms of sporting events. The buzz they create as a result of their battles on the course here in Macao is something we can’t wait for and we look forward to hosting them once again this year.”
With the continued commitment of title sponsor – The Venetian Macao, the tournament’s prize purse sees a third consecutive increase, taking it to the all-important US $1 million mark – a rise of US $100,000 on 2014, making it one of the most lucrative tournaments on the Asian Tour.
Dave Horton, Global Chief Marketing Officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Sands China Ltd., commented:
“We are continuing our support for the Venetian Macao Open because we believe it has an important role to play in promoting Macao as a top destination for both leisure and business travel. Macao is internationally renowned for its array of entertainment and hospitality offerings, and we are proud to be at the heart of one of the city’s most iconic annual events. The return of a four-time Major winner in Ernie Els and former champion in Scott Hend will no doubt add more colour to the already glittering event.”
Mike Kerr, CEO of the Asian Tour added, “The Venetian Macao Open brings together the best players on the Asian Tour and legends such as Ernie Els, which is a testimony of the caliber and stature of the event. Since 2012, when the Venetian Macao began their support of the tournament, it has gone from strength to strength and the event is now a highlight of the Asian Tour calendar and a favourite amongst the players, fans, sponsors and partners alike. The Asian Tour’s top players such as Scott Hend and Anirban Lahiri have now made the Venetian Macao Open a regular destination for them, and it will be exciting to see them battling for the title again with Ernie this October.”
Since its inauguration in 1998, the tournament has been contested by some of the best golfers in the world, including Lee Westwood (winner in 1999), Colin Montgomerie (winner in 2003), Scott Hend (winner in 2013), Anirban Lahiri (winner in 2014), Nick Faldo, Padraig Harrington, Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam, Mark O’Meara, and Chinese stars Zhang Lian-wei and Liang Wen-chong.
For more details on the Venetian Macao Open, please visit: www.thevenetianmacaoopen.com