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Asian Tour announces part two of schedule

The Asian Tour has announced a second half schedule of 13 events which will propel its 2005 season to an all-time high of 28 tournaments with record prize money of US$20 million.

Asian Tour Chief Executive Louis Martin said the region's talented players will visit mainland China for four more events in the second half of the year while two tournaments in Thailand, the Bangkok Airways Open and Double A Thailand Masters, will make their debuts.

The Singapore Open, last played in 2001, makes a welcome return in September and with a lucrative prize pot of US$2 million, it will be the richest national Open in Asia . The Open will be one of the main highlights on the calendar and will be staged at Sentosa Golf Club's award-winning Serapong course from September 8-11.

The Volkswagen Masters - China , Crowne Plaza Open, Beijing and Carlsberg Masters Vietnam, all inaugurated last year, will be played once again this season which reinforces the continued support from major corporations towards the game in Asia .

In total, the Asian Tour will stage six events more this year than its 2004 schedule and prize money will be almost doubled from last year's US$12.3 million.

"We are delighted to announce a healthy growth of six additional events for the Asian Tour, which coincides with our recent acceptance as a full member of the International Federation of PGA Tours," said Martin today.

"In terms of number of events, we have created more playing opportunities for our talented members in 2005. At 28 tournaments, it will be the most Asia has achieved in the professional game. Prize money has also increased substantially and this reflects positively on the faith and support that sponsors have towards the Asian Tour."

Martin added that the 13 events will see the likes of current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Thongchai Jaidee , Thailand 's Thaworn Wiratchant , India 's Jyoti Randhawa and Chinese ace Zhang Lian-wei shooting for honours in six different countries.

The second half of the year will begin with the second edition of the Volkswagen Masters - China in Beijing in September and other highlights include the Volvo China Open and Hong Kong Open, both events jointly sanctioned with the European Tour and offering purses of US$1.3 million and a minimum of US$1 million respectively.

The curtains will come down at the US$600,000 Volvo Masters of Asia, which will be played at the Thai Country Club in Bangkok from December 8-11. The season-ending event is dubbed the Tour Championship and is exclusive to the top-60 players on the Order of Merit.

"While China is the focal point of development with seven events to be played there this season, other parts of the region are showing growth as well. Thailand is a prime example and the success of Thai players like Thongchai Jaidee, Boonchu Ruangkit and Thaworn Wiratchant has created new opportunities with the addition of two events onto the schedule plus the Volvo Masters of Asia," said Martin.

He added that the Asian Tour and the Indian Golf Union have recently concluded an agreement to ensure the future of the Indian Open over the next three years. The championship, originally scheduled in March this year, will be played from October 27-30.

"The Taiwan Open and Indian Open will feature prominently towards the back end of the year and we are also pleased that newly established events from last year are back on the schedule," said Martin.

"The Asian Tour is also very positive of securing more events in India in the future to mirror the growing stature of Indian players such as Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa on the international scene. Our partnership with the Indian Golf Union is important and we believe India should have more events on the Asian Tour.

"It will be a tremendous season for the Asian Tour and I'm confident that 2005 will provide the springboard to many more great years ahead for Asian golf," said Martin.

2005 Asian Tour (September - December)

Sept 1-4: Volkswagen Masters - China , Course TBC, US$300,000

Sept 8-11: Singapore Open, Sentosa GC, US$2 million

Sept 15-18: Taiwan Open, Chung Kung GC, US$300,000

Sept 22-25: Mercuries Taiwan Masters , Taiwan GCC, US$400,000

Sept 29-Oct 2: Crowne Plaza Open, Beijing , Course TBC, China , US$200,000

Oct 6-9: WGC-World Cup Qualifier, Course TBC

Oct 13-16: Bangkok Airways Open, Koh Samui, US$200,000

Oct 20-23: Sanya Open, Yalong Bay GC, China , US$300,000

Oct 27-30: Indian Open, Course TBC, US$300,000

Nov 3-6: Carlsberg Masters Vietnam , Chi Linh Star GC, US$200,000

Nov 17-20: Double A Thailand Masters, Course TBC, US$300,000

Nov 24-27: Volvo China Open*, Shenzhen GC, US$1.3 million

Dec 1-4: Hong Kong Open*, Hong Kong GC, US$1 million

Dec 8-11: Volvo Masters of Asia , Thai Country Club , Thailand , US$600,000


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