Hawaii finds green at Sony Open

Mike Story, Tourism Brand and Sports Manager for the Hawaii Tourism Authority
Mike Story, Tourism Brand and Sports Manager for the Hawaii Tourism Authority

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

WAIALAE (HawaiiNewsNow) – The Sony Open, which tees off on Thursday at the Waialae Country Club, is one of four professional golf tournaments that will generate millions of dollars for the state economy.

"On an economic impact, we do a study each year, we're between 25 and 30 million annually," Sony Open Tournament Director Ray Stosik told Hawaii News Now.

The Sony Open is the first full field event of the PGA Tour season, but it is the second PGA event to be held in Hawaii this year. The Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which is open only to golfers who won PGA tournaments last year, was played at Kapalua last week. The Champions Tour makes a stop at Hualalai on the Big Island next week for the Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

Each pumps millions of dollars into Hawaii's economy.

"I would say that the Sony would generate about $25 (million). I would say the Hyundai about $20 (million) and the Mitsubishi a little over ten (million dollars)," said Mike Story, Tourism Brand and Sports Manager for the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

That's $55 million dollars exchanging hands in Hawaii because of those three events, and this year there will be a fourth.

After a two year absence the LPGA is coming back to the islands. The Lotte Championship will be played in April at a course yet to be named.

"It's very big. We pride ourselves on providing world class courses to the best golfers in the world to have the men, and now the women back I think really says a lot about our destination and our golf," Story said.

This week's field at Waialae Country Club features nine players who have won major championships (Masters, US Open, The Open, PGA Championship), eight past Sony Open champions, and the highest ranked U.S. golfer in the world – #5 Steve Stricker.

"Most importantly Ryo Ishikawa (is here.) He's twenty years old, a world phenomenon," Ray Stosik said. "Our media requests are up tremendously this week and we'll have a number of people come out just to see him."

The state has an agreement with the PGA tour that, barring a lack of sponsorship, ensures each of the three men's events will continue to be played in Hawaii through 2014.

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