Johnnie Walker Classic
|Course(s)||The Vines Resort and Country Club|
PGA Tour of Australasia
|Tournament record score|
|Aggregate||259 Ernie Els (2003)|
|To par||−29 (as above)|
The Johnnie Walker Classic was a European Tour golf tournament which is played in the Asia Pacific region. Johnnie Walker is a brand name and the owners have a long history of tournament sponsorship. They also sponsor the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles which is a European Tour event played in Scotland. Before the present tournament was introduced there was an entirely separate tournament of the same name in Australia, and the two actually overlapped by a year or two, but at the point the current event was called the Johnnie Walker Asian Classic.
In 1989 Johnnie Walker sponsored the Hong Kong Open, and it was decided to establish an additional tournament which it would sponsor on an ongoing basis. This tournament was called the Johnnie Walker Asian Classic, and was first staged in Hong Kong in 1990. Subsequently it became a touring event, essentially used by its sponsor as a marketing exercise in the Asia Pacific region. In 1992 it became the first event to be sanctioned by the European Tour in East Asia (the Dubai Desert Classic was the first in Asia as a whole). In 1993 the word Asian was dropped from the title. In 2005 the tournament was held in China for the first time, as part of the European Tour's push into China, which saw four events held in mainland China and one in Hong Kong in the 2005 season. The location of the tournament changes every year.
In 2005 the event was tri-sanctioned by the Asian, European and Australasian tours and the field comprised 60 European Tour players, 60 Asian Tour players, 28 PGA Tour of Australasia players, and 8 sponsors' invitees. The prize fund was £1,250,000. This amount is large by Asian and Australasian Tour standards, but not by European Tour or PGA Tour standards. However the tournament attracts a number of the World's leading players each year by paying them large appearance fees. Nine of the first fourteen editions were won by players who have topped the Official World Golf Ranking at some point in their career (Faldo, Els and Woods twice each; Woosnam, Norman and Couples once each).
The years in brackets represent the European Tour seasons. In 2000 and 2001, the Johnnie Walker Classic was held in November, and as such, it fell into the following years European season.