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Golf: Hong Kong association receive sanctioning fee fillip

(Reuters) - The Hong Kong Golf Association (HKGA) will receive a much needed $200,000 sanctioning fee for hosting the national open last week, an official said on Tuesday, averting fears concerning the organization's future.

The HKGA had said last week they were waiting to hear if they would receive the HK$1.6 million ($206,400) fee after the European and Asian Tour event struggled to find a sponsor for Asia's oldest open.

Swiss watch company Omega rejected an opportunity to fund the event before Swiss bank UBS stepped in to plug the gap and continue their association with a tournament they began sponsoring in 2006.

That deal, however, led to a decrease in prize money with winnings cut by $750,000 at the now $2 million tournament.

HKGA president Peter Aherne said that doubts about the key revenue stream not arriving from the 54-year-old event were unfounded.

"Yes, 10 percent of the prize money will come our way," he told the South China Morning Post on Tuesday.

"While the association certainly needs the money, we don't have to depend solely on it, as we have revenue from other sources too."

Aherne's assured comments contradicted those of HKGA chief executive Iain Valentine, who told the paper last week that they were still awaiting news on the key revenue stream.

"It will be a tremendous blow to local golf if we don't get any money from a sanction fee," Valentine said. "But right now, all our efforts have been focused on making this event a success."

Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez brought welcome headlines to the event with his victory at Fanling on Sunday, becoming the oldest winner of a European Tour event at 48 years and 316 days

It was a positive end to a tournament that suffered the disappointment of world number one and defending champion Rory McIlroy missing the weekend cut.

UBS have not committed to return in 2013 with the European Tour announcing on Sunday that the event would be moved to December and not included in the Race to Dubai schedule.

It would instead be one of the first tournaments on the 2014 tour calendar, the Tour said.

($1 = 7.7518 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting by Patrick Johnston; Editing by John O'Brien)

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