HSBC Pulls Out of World Match Play

Thanks to reader Tuco for this...

Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe's biggest- bank by market value, will end its sponsorship of golf's World Match Play Championship five years early to concentrate on the European Tour's Champions tournament in China.    

HSBC in 2003 signed a 10-year accord for the 16-player World Match Play at Wentworth, southwest of London, two years before it began to back the Champions tournament in Shanghai. International Management Group, the sports agency founded by Mark McCormack, will seek a new sponsor for next season's 45th edition.

"The World Match Play has taught us a lot about golf and led to the success of the HSBC Champions in Asia,'' the bank said in an e-mailed statement today. The Champions ``has grown faster than we could have hoped and means that now is the right time to make this decision.''

HSBC has struggled to attract top players to Wentworth even after increasing the first prize to 1 million pounds ($1.97 million), the biggest winner's check in the game until this year's FedEx Cup final on the U.S. PGA Tour. Players including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk have regularly shunned the event, limiting the appeal of the contest.