Golf | 16 Mar 2017 | By Michael Vlismas

Major growth for the tri-sanctioned 2017 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open

The biggest field of professionals in the history of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open will gather at The Heritage Golf Club this November for the third edition of a tournament that will also now take up a premier place on the international golf calendar.

At the official launch of this year’s tournament at the Heritage Le Telfair Golf and Spa Resort on Domaine De Bel Ombre on Thursday 16 March, it was announced that this tri-sanctioned tournament between the European Tour, Asian Tour and Sunshine Tour will feature an increased field of 156 professionals.

The tournament – featuring a prize fund of €1 million and contested by players from over 30 countries – will also feature a new date on the European Tour calendar of 30 November to 3 December, making it the second counting event on The 2018 Race to Dubai.

“This is a milestone year for arguably the most significant tournament in the growing partnership between the Sunshine Tour, European Tour and Asian Tour to strengthen golf in the southern hemisphere. The strength of our partnerships is reflected in how quickly this tournament has grown to become the biggest sporting event in the Indian Ocean,” said Selwyn Nathan, the Executive Director of the Sunshine Tour.

South Africa’s George Coetzee won the inaugural AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open which was played at The Heritage Golf Club in 2015, and South Korea’s Jeunghun Wang took the 2016 title when the tournament was played at Anahita.

This year’s field will be made up of 48 professionals from each of the three Tours plus 12 invitations competing in a 72-hole stroke play championship that counts towards the Tours’ individual Order of Merits including the Race to Dubai and the Official World Golf Ranking.

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “We are delighted to see the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open returning to our international schedule later this year and we give thanks to our title sponsors AfrAsia Bank, the many other tournament sponsors, the Mauritius Golf Federation and everyone at the wonderful Heritage Golf Club for their hard work in making this a reality.

“Providing playing opportunities for our members is paramount and so the increase in field size is good news, as is the opportunity to continue to showcase this wonderful country – through our global television network – as a world-class tourism destination.

“We are committed to working together with both the Asian Tour and the Sunshine Tour and the tri-sanctioning of this tournament is a perfect illustration of the success of our partnership.”

Launched as the first tri-sanctioned tournament between the three tours in 2015, Asian Tour Chief Executive, Josh Burack, praised the continued growth of a tournament that is a major strategic alliance for three of the biggest tours in world golf.

“The AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open is the perfect example of the strength of our alliances with other members of the International Federation of PGA Tours and the success it yields in creating opportunities for our players and for the members of the other sanctioning tours. The Asian Tour is a strong partner with the European Tour, and we have also had a long association with the Sunshine Tour which we look forward to growing by collaborating with more tournaments in the future. The Asian Tour members have enjoyed competing in Mauritius and we look forward to returning again this November.”

With a wealth of golf courses designed by luminaries such as Ernie Els, Bernhard Langer and Peter Matkovich, the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open plays a key role in the ongoing development of golf on the island by the Mauritius Golf Federation.

“The Mauritius Golf Federation is once again honoured to host the professionals from the three Tours. Their presence in the biggest golf tournament in Mauritius plays a key role in our own efforts to keep developing golf here and give our own young stars something to aspire to,” said Christophe Curé, President of the Mauritius Golf Federation.

“We are extremely proud of the world-class golf courses we have on offer in Mauritius, and this tournament is a wonderful representation of Mauritius as an important roleplayer in the golf industry.”

The Heritage Golf Club will host the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open for the second time in three years, entrenching its status as the premier golf destination in the Indian Ocean.

The Heritage Golf Club was voted the Best Golf Course in the Indian Ocean at the World Golf Awards of 2014, 2015 and 2016, and is an enterprise of the Rogers Group, found in 1899 and a listed services and investment company with expertise in FinTech, Hospitality, Logistics and Property.

“This tournament is definitely a unique opportunity to highlight to the world what Mauritius has to offer in terms of business and sport whilst reminding them of the beauty and hospitality that Mauritius has to offer,” said Philippe Espitalier-Noël, Chief Executive Officer of the Rogers Group.

“Our diversified range of world-class golf courses in Mauritius have the playing quality that modern golf demands and with all the services that are required for a memorable golf experience. The country currently boasts nine 18-hole courses and another two are due for completion at the end of 2017 and 2018, including a second one here on the Domaine de Bel Ombre.

“Our island is recognised as the best golf destination for the Africa, Gulf States and Indian Ocean region by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO). According to IAGTO, ‘Mauritius is the stellar performer in this part of the world, creating and developing a sustainable appeal as a golf destination for the past decade’.”

As a major regional sponsor of golf, AfrAsia Bank’s global reach and diversity reflects the opportunities created by the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open to provide sponsorship value for companies seeking added exposure in the markets of Africa, Asia and Europe.

The tournament has a strong portfolio of additional sponsors including Air Mauritius (Official Airline), Jaguar (Official Car), Villas Valriche, Anahita, Coca- Cola, Phoenix Beverage, Illy Coffee, Mauritius Telecom, London No 1 Gin, Bougainville Rum, Mautourco, COGIR, Ernie Els Wines and DSTV.

“At the outset, the tournament’s objective is to place Mauritius at the forefront and since its launch in 2015 we have witnessed an excellent collaboration between the Government, Private and Public sectors, making this tournament truly unique with all working together towards one common vision,” said Sanjiv Bhasin, Chief Executive Officer of AfrAsia Bank.

“We believe the event has established and will continue to establish the ‘Mauritius Brand’ on a global platform, and the two key businesses which will benefit more than others are the Tourism and Financial Services industries. At AfrAsia we have embarked on a journey to position the bank as an institution which promises to be committed to service excellence and to become an employer of choice. With these strategic goals, having the brand established and recognised is a significant necessity. The tournament has been a catalyst when deploying our brand globally and remains a perfect fit for us.”