Riches for Lismore
By Adam Hicks
THE Lismore Workers Golf Club Pro-Am is set to become the richest one-day tournament in regional Australia. Major sponsors, Professional Investment Services (PIS), announced at Sunday's presentation that they would help beef up prize money to $45,000 - more than doubling this year's $20,000 kitty. PIS will put in $30,000 while the remaining $15,000 is expected to come from sponsorship of individual holes. PIS director Tony Mulligan also said the Ballina Pro-Am prize pool would be raised. The amount hasn't been finalised yet, but with PIS prepared to chip in up to $10,000, Mulligan said $20,000 was not an unrealistic target. Both pro-ams will coincide with the $100,000, two-day tournament at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, and the $35,000 Pro-Am at Wynnum, in Brisbane. The large bounties are expected to attract the some of the country best talent to the Northern Rivers' events next year. "I've already had dozens of pros come up and say you don't know what that means to us," Mulligan said. "A lot of these guys are scraping by ... relying on winning $300 or $400. "If they finish even 15th next year, they might pick up $1000." The extra sponsorship comes as PIS makes moves to expand into the Sri Lanka and Dubai markets, making them the biggest financial services distribution in the world. But why throw such a large chunk of cash at a golf tournament in Lismore? "We just have a soft spot for it down here," Mulligan said. "It was one of the first things we sponsored and it's grown from there. "We now sponsor the Titans NRL team." Mulligan, a former president of the Lismore Workers Golf Club, said PIS had sponsored the Lismore Pro-Am for 13 years. "The company has grown, and as we've got better at it (the sponsorship of events), we get better known by the pros," he said. "They go away and say to other pros, 'You've got to go to Lismore'. "And now we've got the prize money, you'll get a lot of big names wanting to play. "Even if you're a pro in Perth you're going to fly over with that sort of money about." A QLD PGA spokesman confirmed the prize money would make the Lismore Pro-Am the biggest one-day golfing event in regional Australia. "You're going to put on a show-case event," he said. Lismore pro Peter Jaeger said the best players from this year's event would all return for a crack at that sort of money. "To have a tournament that size, says all these players will be back," he said.