Natadola Bay will host the Fiji International
The PGA of Australia together with the Fiji Government today announced plans to stage Fiji’s largest and most acclaimed sporting event, the Fiji International.
Confirmed for a five-year period with a guaranteed minimum prizepurse of US$1 million, from 2014 the Fiji International will be played at the spectacular Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course delivering substantial economic and tourism benefits to the south pacific nation.
The PGA Tour of Australasia tournament will be managed by the PGA in conjunction with tournament promoter Sports & Entertainment Limited (SEL), and will be co-sanctioned by OneAsia, of which the PGA is a founding partner.
In making the announcement alongside Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Brian Thorburn CEO of the PGA of Australia said the Fiji International presents an opportunity for Fiji to claim a position as one of the world’s greatest golf destinations.
“This is a significant day for Fiji, the PGA of Australia and OneAsia,” said Thorburn.
“The Fiji International will perfectly complement Fiji’s tourism strategy at the same time delivering both short and long term economic benefits.”
“With a broadcast reach to over 400 million people across 40 countries, the Fiji International will rightfully showcase Fiji as a world class golf and tourist destination and we’re proud to be involved with this promising project.”
With initial estimates suggesting the Fiji International could deliver a multi-million dollar economic benefit, Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the initiative has been embraced by the Fiji Government.
Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said that his Government fully supported this initiative.
“The signing of today’s MOU is a significant moment for Fiji because it demonstrates that the PGA has faith in our country to hold one of its major events. Faith in our infrastructure. Faith in our economy. And faith in our people. I am here to say that we are equal to the opportunity and look forward to a strong and lasting relationship with the PGA.”
The Prime Minister also said that the Fiji International will showcase Fiji to the world.
“With a potential broadcast reach to more than 400 million people across 40 countries, it will feature Fiji as a top golf and tourist destination in millions of homes around the globe.”
“It will give us a fantastic avenue to promote our beautiful nation and show the world what we have to offer.”
The Prime Minister said he expects the tournament to lead directly to a multi-million dollar boost for the Fijian economy, with many additional flow on benefits.
Planning is now underway to stage the inaugural Fiji International in August 2014, however the tournament will likely move to a later position from 2015 to more closely align with the PGA Tour of Australasia’s existing major events including the Australian PGA Championship presented by Coca-Cola, the Emirates Australian Open, Perth International and the Talisker Masters.
“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,” said Thorburn
The Fiji International is the third new PGA Tour of Australasia tournament launched in as many years on the growing regional schedule.
With the addition of the Fiji International, the PGA Tour of Australasia now spans across Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Fiji, whilst OneAsia’s events are played in some of the world’s fastest growing golfing nations including China, Thailand and Korea.
"We're very excited to have the Fiji International become part of the OneAsia schedule and I am certain that the tournament will very quickly become one of the most popular destinations on tour," said OneAsia Commissioner and Chairman Sang Y. Chun.
Basil Scaffidi, Managing Director of SEL, Australia’s leading sports marketing organisation said, ‘We have had preliminary discussions with potential sponsor and supplier partners and they are excited about being involved with Fiji’s biggest sporting event. There is a strong feeling that this is Fiji’s chance to shine on the international stage.”
While the final date is yet to be confirmed, the inaugural Fiji International will be played at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course in August 2014.
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 sparkling 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.
The course has since hosted the 2010 Fiji Open, the 2011 Nomura Cap and the 2012 Natadola Bay Fiji Classic.
The PGA and SEL will now focus on pursuing commercial partners for the Fiji International, both within Fiji and abroad.