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Players plan on taking over Asian PGA Tour

Players are planning to take over the running of the Asian PGA Tour because of what they describe as poor promotion by organisers, an Indian professional who is part of the effort said on Tuesday.

India's Amandeep Johl said a new Singapore-registered body would organise the tour and had won the backing of major sponsors as well as the European Tour, which jointly sanctions three tournaments in Asia.

European Tour executive director Ken Schofield told Reuters in London: "As we are in Asia by invitation as a fellow players' organisation, we wholeheartedly support the Asian players' initiative, an ever increasing number of whom have become respected members of the European Tour."

Although Asian PGA Tour executive director Ramlan Harun made no official comment on Tuesday, the tour's player development director, David Parkin, said a statement would probably appear on Wednesday.

Asked how the players' initiative would affect the 2004 tour, Parkin replied: "I've no idea at the minute. This has already gone so far down the line.

The new Asian association would be run by a board controlled by the players and would become the sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, Johl, one of five players named as interim office-holders, said in a statement.

Rick Gibson (Canada), Mardan Mamat (Singapore), Hendrik Buhrmann (South Africa) and Kyi Hla Han (Myanmar) are the other players on the interim committee.

The body would be launched this week and its board formed at its first meeting to be held before the Thailand Open starting on January 22, he said.

Johl said the problems with the tour arose mainly owing to the APGA handing the master rights to an independent marketing company, which he said "was effectively controlling the APGA" and promoted only big events with huge returns.

The promoters neglected smaller events affecting upcoming players and a protracted legal battle following APGA's attempt to regain the rights caused sponsorship concerns, he said.

"The focus had shifted from running the tour for the players. Hardly any new player has come up in the last seven-eight years," Johl told Reuters.

"From now on, the players will set the agenda and more tournaments will happen."

Prize money on the inaugural Asian PGA Tour in 1995 was $5.5 million, which almost doubled in eight years with 20 events in 2003 offering a total purse of around $10 million.

The Asian PGA, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is the governing body that sanctions and runs the Asian PGA Tour.

It is responsible for coordinating the playing professionals, the event golfing operations and the tour's future development.

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