The innovative Vic Open, which features both male and female competitors from the European Tour and the LPGA, will have ISPS Handa as its title sponsor for the next two years.
In an exciting development it was announced that the Japanese non-profit organisation will partner with the Australian event until at least 2020.
Although first introduced on the Australian golfing circuit in 1957, it was in 2012 when the event took on new significance – being held concurrently with the Women's Victorian Open, to create the only professional golf tournament in the world where men and women play on the same courses, at the same time, for equal prize money.
But in a new chapter for the event in 2019, both the European Tour and the LPGA will join forces with the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia and the ALPG Tour for the first time, from February 7-10 at 13th Beach Golf Links at Barwon Heads on the southern Australian coast.
“This is fantastic news for the Vic Open and all parties involved with this pioneering event,” said Ben Cowen, Head of International Policy, European Tour.
“Being associated with the Vic Open fits perfectly not just with our desire to lead the transformation of global golf through innovation but is also in keeping with the aims of ISPS Handa who are doing so much to grow our game across the world.
“We thank everyone at ISPS Handa, in particular Dr Haruhisa Handa, for continuing to help make the game of golf more inclusive and diverse.”
“The commitment and support from Dr Haruhisa Handa through ISPS HANDA for Australian golf is second to none and dates back almost 30 years,” said Gavin Kirkman, Chief Executive Officer, PGA of Australia.
“We are delighted to see a second tournament within the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia now supported with a title sponsorship from one of our great partners.
“It’s wonderful that these bodies can bring such a great event to a global audience,” said Midori Miyazaki, Executive Director, ISPS Handa.
“The Vic Open has been extremely successful in recent years in helping people see golf in a different way – and ISPS Handa hopes, as always, to do the same thing.
“We believe in the power of sport to inspire and being a part of arguably the world’s most inclusive tournament will help us to spread that message and break down barriers between communities even further.”
ISPS Handa is already a key supporter of Australasian golf as title sponsor of the Women’s Australian Open, World Super 6 Perth, World Cup of Golf and New Zealand Open, as well as the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Australian All Abilities Championship and Disabled Cup tournaments.
“We are again thrilled to partner with our good friends at ISPS Handa, especially at another innovative tournament such as the Vic Open,” said Stephen Pitt, Chief Executive Officer, Golf Australia.
“ISPS Handa delivers a world-class message about sport’s capacity to empower, so we’re very pleased to share another of our platforms to help spread the word.”
The Victorian Government, another key backer of the Vic Open and its expansion to equal prize pools for men and women of $1.5million each next year, was also delighted to welcome ISPS Handa aboard.
“Along with the recent ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf, the 2019 Presidents Cup and the Emirates Australian Open Golf in 2020 and 2022, the Vic Open strengthens Victoria’s reputation as Australia’s golfing capital,” said Martin Pakula, the Victorian Government’s Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events.
“We’re proud to support Australia’s only joint men’s and women’s professional golf tournament and the only tournament in the world where men and women compete for equal prizemoney on the same course at the same time.“The Andrews Labor Government is proud to partner with Golf Australia, City of Greater Geelong and the Vic Open’s new title sponsor ISPS Handa to host the 2019 event.”