The ISPS Handa-Championship, a golf tournament sponsored by the International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS), will be held next spring as the first DP World Tour event in Japan. With DP World, a multinational logistics company based in Dubai, as the new title sponsor, the European Tour group’s main tour will be called the DP World Tour from the 2022 season.
A news conference was held in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on Nov. 24 to announce and commemorate this event, which has been long-awaited not only by professional golfers, but also by Japanese golf fans. The tournament will take place at PGM Ishioka Golf Club in Ibaraki Prefecture from April 21 to 24. It will be co-organized by the Japan Golf Tour Organization and the European Tour, a famous international event established in 1972 and second-largest in scale after the PGA Tour in the United States.
This tournament is part of the Race to Dubai, a season-long competition to crown the European Tour’s No. 1 player, while it also counts toward the DP World Tour Rankings and the JGTO Order of Merit.
Japanese philanthropist Haruhisa Handa, who founded and chairs the ISPS, an international charity that supports various organizations and events in Japan and abroad, said at the news conference that Japan will be the 51st country to host a DP World Tour event.
As a country that is home to many world-class professional golfers, enthusiastic amateur players, as well as devoted golf fans, it may seem odd that Japan lagged behind so many countries in hosting this prestigious event. Handa attributed this to the lack of in-depth discussions and negotiations — as well as thorough and detailed revisions — that were effective enough to leave both a global organizer like the European Tour group and a Japanese host perfectly convinced. “In negotiations, we need to find a middle ground so that neither one of us puts the other under his thumb,” Handa said, expressing his appreciation to the European Tour for being a good negotiating partner and to the JGTO and all related parties for being supportive.
European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley said in a video message for the news conference that the upcoming tournament in Japan would not be possible without Handa’s engagement. He also said, “We share the same values of inclusivity and diversity,” referring to Handa as the honorary ambassador for the European Tour’s Golfers with Disability Programme, a title he earned for his contributions to raising the profile of golfers with disabilities worldwide.
The ISPS was founded in 2006 with the purpose of helping those with disabilities enjoy and participate in sports. In the 15 years since its establishment, it has grown into an international charity that supports a variety of sports organizations and events across the world based on the belief that sports have the power to inspire, transform and unite people and communities beyond social, racial and socioeconomic barriers.
Even during the last two years, when the world was dealing with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ISPS found ways to encourage Japan’s golf community with the utmost caution and measures to prevent the spread of the virus, such as conducting PCR tests for all participants at its competitions and providing galleries with medical supplies, such as masks.
Renowned Japanese golfer Masashi “Jumbo” Ozaki,, who attended the news conference online, said, “Handa never stops pushing forward even at a time like this when everyone is holding back,” praising his vitality to make this “big surprise” happen. “This tournament will represent a fusion of the European and Japanese golf communities,” Ozaki said.
The ISPS Handa-Championship will offer prize money totaling $2 million and accept 132 participants, including 83 from the DP World Tour, 41 from the Japan Golf Tour, and eight invited by the sponsor. “Two out of the eight invited players will be amateur golfers, hopefully students who are promising enough to compete on the global stage. I am sure this will be a great experience to support their breakthrough. We plan to select the other six from those professional golfers who we think will contribute to invigorating the future golf community,” Handa said.
Nobuhito Sato, a former pro golfer who is director in charge of public relations for JGTO, said the collaboration between the European Tour and JGTO is a dream come true for everyone in the Japanese golf world. “It will be an important chance for young golfers to venture out into the world and an exciting week for golf fans in Japan to witness sophisticated skills of world-class players,” Sato said.
JGTO Chairman Isao Aoki said in a video message, “We will be making various preparations for this great event in the next six months — please stay tuned.”