Cape Town - The tropical Indian Ocean island of Mauritius welcomed one of the most diverse fields in world golf.
Drawn from the three major tours - Sunshine Tour, European Tour and Asian Tour, the 2018 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open teed off at the picturesque Four Seasons Golf Club at Anahita this year.
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The first tournament in international golf to be tri-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour, European Tour and Asian Tour has established itself as the largest sports event in the Indian Ocean, and an event that is positioning golf as one of the leading drivers of growth for the Mauritius brand.
The tournament, which offers a minimum of €1 million in prize money, has already succeeded in attracting some of the biggest names in the game.
These include 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, 2011 Open champion and 2016 European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke, 2018 European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjørn, and a myriad of former Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup players as well as multiple Sunshine Tour, European Tour and Asian Tour winners.
It is an established fixture on the international golf calendar and has a global broadcast reach that extends to over 300 million households.
The 2018 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open is set to take this even further. The event will not only count towards the various tours' individual Orders of Merit, including the Race to Dubai, but will also offer Official World Golf Ranking points. As such, it is highly respected among the professionals.
"I love it here. I brought the whole family with me and am just enjoying Mauritius," said Oosthuizen after making his debut in the tournament last year, which was won by fellow South African professional golfer, Dylan Frittelli.
George Coetzee, winner of the inaugural AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in 2015, summed up the attraction of the event for the professionals when he said, "There is just so much to do here in Mauritius. At the start of the tournament week I was windsurfing and then SUPing. With so many other activities to experience away from the golf course, it’s not hard to see why so many of the players' wives and girlfriends also enjoy it."
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It's a view that entrenches the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open's status as 'The Most Beautiful Golf Tournament in the World', and as a key contributor to the tourism and economic growth of Mauritius.
"Our sponsorship of this tournament demonstrates a strong intent to support the growth of the Mauritius brand and promote it as a destination for sports and tourism. The AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open continues to attract the world's best golfers since 2015,” said Sanjiv Bhasin, Chief Executive Officer of AfrAsia Bank.
"The tournament occupies an important place in our sponsorship portfolio. It enables us to grow our brand across borders. From our perspective, the game of golf is of interest to our clients based in different geographies where we want to expand business. It also allows us to share and support the passion of our clientele and build a closer relationship with them."
This vision is shared by the many blue-chip sponsors that have combined to make this event a success, including Anahita Mauritius, Sun Resorts, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, Heritage Resorts, Rogers Capital, Air Mauritius (official airline), Jaguar (official car), Coca-Cola, Phoenix Beverage, Illy Coffee, Emtel, Wellkin Hospital, 2BU Apparel, Aurs, London No 1 Gin, Bougainville Rum, Mautourco, COGIR, Ernie Els Wines, Laurent Perrier and DStv.
From its world-class golf courses such as the Ernie Els-designed Anahita to having one of the oldest histories in the game dating back to 1844, Mauritius has become synonymous with "golf in paradise".
"We are proud to be hosting the tournament again at Anahita Mauritius on the pristine East coast of the island," said Patrice Legris, CEO of Anahita Mauritius/Alteo Properties.
"The exceptional seafront estate spread along six kilometres of coastline offers a unique golfing experience, with some breathtaking signature holes overlooking the lagoon - living up to the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open's status as 'the most beautiful golf tournament in the world'.
"With the renowned Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club just a few minutes away, it is definitely a golfer's paradise. The plethora of five-star services and exciting activities, combined with the acclaimed Mauritian hospitality, make for a truly unforgettable destination, even for non-golfers."
It's a message the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open is taking to the world with a tournament that is unique and captivating.
Sport24 is at the AfrAsia Mauritius Open sponsored by the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and SUN Resorts.