Blue Canyon to host Johnnie Walker Classic

PHUKET (The Nation): The US$2.4-million Johnnie Walker Classic will return to Phuket in March, silencing rumors it could be moved to other countries due to the government’s attempt to ban alcohol advertising and sponsorship.

Organizers Riche Monde, distributor of the beverage, insisted on keeping the tournament at Phuket’s Blue Canyon Country Club from March 1 to 4.

“Our company has the firm intention to organize and promote the golf tournament. There will be no problem if we have to refrain from advertising,” said Riche Monde President Vorathep Rangchaikul.

Earlier this year, the company considered relocating the event to another Asian nation if it were not allowed to use its logo and the brand name for the tournament.

The government’s proposed legislation to ban liquor advertising and sponsorship has been indefinitely postponed as the Ministry of Health failed to introduce it in the National Legislative Assembly. The indications are that it might take longer than the term of the current government.

Tri-sanctioned by the European, Asian and Australian Tours, the 16th Johnnie Walker Classic will be staged in Thailand for the sixth time since the tournament started in 1990.

World No 1 Tiger Woods is a two-time champion – in 1998 at the Blue Canyon Club and 2000 at the Thai Country Club. Spanish veteran Miguel Jimenez won the event when it was last held in Thailand in 2004.

This year three top 10 marquee names – Adam Scott of Australia, and Retief Goosen and Ernie Els of South Africa – have confirmed their participation.

Goosen, who last won the tournament in Perth in 2002, will return to Blue Canyon, where he shared the Tiger Skins title with Thomas Bjorn in 2005.

“I won this tournament before. I’ve heard the course will be tough and I look forward to coming back to Phuket again,” said Goosen, ranked No 6 on the PGA Tour.

Another big name to feature in Thailand’s most expensive golf tournament is British Ryder Cup star Paul Casey.

Phuket News
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