Defending champion Kristie Smith, who won the title by three shots in 2011

A new title sponsor the International Sports Promotion Society will ensure the New Zealand Women’s Open keeps its co-sanctioned status on the Ladies European Tour (LET) and the Australian Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) Tours in 2012.The tournament will remain at the Pegasus Golf and Sports Club about 30 minutes north of Christchurch and will be played as a three round tournament from February 17 – 19.Defending champion Kristie Smith, who won the title by three shots this year for her maiden win on the LET and English superstar Laura Davies, who won the championship in 2010, have confirmed they will return to compete in the event.  It is expected that the fourth staging of the championship will attract its best field in 2012 with the timing of the event directly after the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and RACV Gold Coast Australian Ladies Masters. “The involvement of Dr Haruhisa Handa in this event speaks volumes of how highly the New Zealand Women’s Open is regarded,” said New Zealand Golf Chief Executive Dean Murphy.“We are thrilled that he has chosen to sponsor the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open as it keeps the tournament on the Ladies European Tour which is very significant. The LET factor brings down some world class players to New Zealand. It showcases our country to the world and it exposes our players to the standard of what it takes to be successful as a pro on the international stage.” “To have household names like Kristie Smith and Laura Davies already confirmed for the event is a good indication of the quality of field we expect for the championship. It should be another great week for Christchurch.”   Title sponsor ISPS is an organisation founded by Japanese philanthropist Dr Haruhisa Handa in 2006 to support charitable causes throughout the sporting world.  ISPS has fostered partnerships with golf governing bodies worldwide to help develop the game at every level and promote blind and disabled golf.Following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Dr Handa and ISPS have a real understanding and empathy for the people of New Zealand after the effects of the earthquakes in Christchurch this year.  Dr Handa recognises the importance of events such as the New Zealand Women’s Open continuing on the sporting calendar to help rebuild and inspire the community of Christchurch.ISPS Chairman Dr Handa said: “ISPS is delighted to become title sponsor of the New Zealand Women’s Open.  Pegasus Golf Club is a fantastic venue and we are looking forward to working with the tournament team on hosting the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open.” Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said Christchurch is absolutely delighted Dr Handa has chosen to sponsor the NZ Women’s Golf Open. “As a city we are very aware of the importance of sport in the recovery of the city and particularly the benefit of major sporting events to the recovery of the city and morale of our residents,” he said.“The ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open is a great event for the city to host again and we look forward to the visitors and atmosphere it will generate, as well as the positive impact it will have on our city and its ratepayers.”Event Promoter, Bob Tuohy, Chairman of TA Golf said, “We are delighted to partner NZ Golf and welcome Dr Handa and his company as our new title sponsor. We also acknowledge the on going support received from Alexandra Armas of the Ladies European Tour and Warren Sevil of the ALPG who together have been instrumental in introducing Dr Handa to the NZ Women’s Open.”