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Financial firm to launch new golf tournament, pan-Asian tour

2018/10/11 08:22

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By Yoo Jee-ho

INCHEON, Oct. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Hana Financial Group announced Thursday it will host a new domestic women's golf tournament starting in 2019 and launch a pan-Asian tour with neighboring nations.

Hana Financial said it has decided not to renew its partnership agreement with the U.S.-based LPGA Tour after this year, and it will instead host a Korea LPGA (KLPGA) event tentatively titled Hana Financial Group Korea Open.

Hana is the title sponsor for the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship, which began Thursday at Sky 72 Golf Club's Ocean Course in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul. The company said the new event will be held at the same venue sometime in October next year and will offer the largest purse on the KLPGA Tour.

Separately, Hana Financial Group will seek to put together a tentatively named "Asian LPGA Series," with tournaments held in countries such as China, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei.

The new series will have six to 10 tournaments, and the Hana Financial Group Korea Open will be the final leg, the company added. Kim Jung-tae, chairman of the group, discussed the idea with senior golf officials from South Korea, China and Taiwan in a meeting in Incheon on Wednesday, Hana said.

The new tournament will mostly feature KLPGA stars but will also invite some of the world's top-ranked golfers and players from U.S. and Asian competitions.

The LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship has been the only LPGA stroke-play event held in South Korea annually since it was first held under a different corporate sponsor in 2002. Sky 72 Golf Club has been the venue since 2008.

Another LPGA event will replace it in the calendar next year. In March this year, the southeastern port city of Busan signed an agreement with the LPGA to host a stroke-play tournament for three years starting in 2019.

South Korean players have dominated the LPGA Tour for several years. In 2017, two South Koreans, Park Sung-hyun and Ryu So-yeon, shared the Player of the Year honors, the first time there were co-winners for the top individual award since its inception in 1966. Park also won the top rookie award, becoming the third-straight South Korean to be so honored.

On the current women's world rankings, four of the top-10 players hail from South Korea.

This undated file photo provided by the Korea LPGA (KLPGA) Tour shows a KLPGA tournament underway in South Korea. (Yonhap) This undated file photo provided by the Korea LPGA (KLPGA) Tour shows a KLPGA tournament underway in South Korea. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr

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