November 28, 2011
The first rule of professional golf: keep the sponsors happy, no matter what. And Omega, the watchmaker who sponsored the just-concluded Mission Hills World Cup? Yeah, they're not happy.
If you didn't realize there was a golf tournament going on this past weekend in China, you weren't alone, and to Omega, that's part of the problem. China, suggests Omega president Stephen Urquhart, is "too immature a market to put the World Cup where it should be. It's too early for China to support by itself a tournament on this scale."
Suggestion? Move the World Cup around the planet, as in soccer. China has hosted the event since 2007, and is contracted to host it through 2025. As a result, there's a bit of complacency, Urquhart suggests: "The field is better this year, but we are not happy."
The tournament is also battling a rather packed late-year schedule, with both the South African Open and the Australian PGA running this past weekend, as well as the divided (some would say nonexistent) attention of the American audience because of the Thanksgiving holiday. (Perhaps if China featured the Detroit Lions in the lineup ... ?)
The Chinese promoters who have backed this event, Kenneth and Tenniel Chu, have spent millions to get the Mission Hills facility on Hainan Island up to tournament quality, and while they didn't expressly address Omega's charges, they indicated that they would be willing to serve out the contract without a sponsor, if necessary. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.