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Golf: Fiji International to join OneAsia schedule from 2014

Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course will host the inaugural US$1 million Fiji International from 2014.

Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course will host the inaugural US$1 million Fiji International from 2014.

September 19, 2013: Fiji will host a US$1 million OneAsia tournament from next year under a five-year deal that promises economic and tourism benefits to the tropical south Pacific island nation.

 

The Fiji International will be played at the spectacular Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course and will be managed by the PGA of Australia in conjunction with tournament promoter Sports and Entertainment Limited (SEL).

 

PGA of Australia CEO Brian Thorburn, making the announcement alongside Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, said the Fiji International presents an opportunity for Fiji to claim a position as a leading golf destination.

 

“This is a significant day for Fiji, the PGA of Australia and OneAsia. The Fiji International will perfectly complement Fiji’s tourism strategy, at the same time delivering both short and long term economic benefits,” Thorburn said.

 

“Our vision is to see the Fiji International grow to be one of the most sought-after trophies within the region, bringing some of the world’s best players to Natadola Bay.”

 

Sang Y. Chun, Commissioner and Chairman of OneAsia, welcomed the new event to the schedule. “We’re very excited to have the Fiji International become part of the OneAsia schedule and I’m certain that the tournament will very quickly become one of the most popular destinations on tour,” he said.

Prime Minister Bainimarama said the government embraced the initiative, with initial estimates suggesting the Fiji International could deliver a multi-million dollar economic benefit.

 

“The signing of today’s MOU is a significant moment for Fiji because it demonstrates that the PGA [of Australia] has faith in our country to hold one of its major events,” Bainimarama said. “I am here to say that we are equal to the opportunity.”

 

The Prime Minister also said that the tournament will showcase Fiji to the world and he expects the tournament to lead directly to a multi-million dollar boost for the Fijian economy, with many additional flow-on benefits.

 

“It will give us a fantastic avenue to promote our beautiful nation and show the world what we have to offer.”

 

The inaugural tournament is scheduled for August 2014, although it will likely move to a later position from 2015 to more closely align with OneAsia and the PGA Tour of Australasia’s existing major events, including the Australian PGA Championship and the Emirates Australian Open.

 

Basil Scaffidi, Managing Director of SEL, a sports marketing organisation, said they were already in talks with potential sponsors and suppliers.

 

“They are excited about being involved with Fiji’s biggest sporting event,” Scaffidi said. “There is a strong feeling that this is Fiji’s chance to shine on the international stage.”

 

Located on Fiji’s Coral Coast, Natadola Bay is approximately 40 minutes’ drive south of Nadi International Airport on the main island of Viti Levu. The course is renowned for its backdrop of coral reefs and the Pacific Ocean that line 15 out of the 18 championship holes.

 

Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course was officially opened for play in June 2009 with the staging of the Fijian Open, won by then-rookie professional Victorian Matthew Griffin, who has gone on to win two OneAsia events. The course has since hosted the 2010 Fiji Open, the 2011 Nomura Cup and the 2012 Natadola Bay Fiji Classic.

 

The next OneAsia event is the Nanshan China Masters from October 10-13.

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