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Asian Tour announce record 2006 schedule

The Asian Tour is poised to hit a new milestone with an unprecedented 32-event Schedule in 2006 and offer a record US$23 million in total prize money, chief executive Louis Martin announced today.

Four new events, the Amby Valley Masters in India , Johor Open in Malaysia , Pakistan Open and the Royal Trophy, which pits Asia against Europe in a matchplay contest in Bangkok , will make its debut next year.

Additionally, the continued growth of existing events will strengthen the Asian Tour which this year will stage 27 tournaments with over a record US$20 million in prize money.

Martin today unveiled an initial schedule of 25 tournaments for 2006 and said it was finalising a minimum of seven other events. Once confirmed, the Asian Tour's 2006 season will surpass all records in terms of total number of tournaments staged in a season and prize money offered to the region's best players.

"We are in the midst of finalising agreements for various other events that will take our players to new destinations and reinforce the Asian Tour as the fastest growing Tour in the world," said Martin today.

"Over the past few years, the Asian Tour has taken a giant leap forward where we have shown a healthy growth. We are launching new events in India , Pakistan and Malaysia next year which underlines the growth of professional golf in Asia ."

The 2006 season will begin in mid-December with the Asia Japan Okinawa Open, jointly sanctioned with the Japan Golf Tour Organisation. After a few weeks break, the inaugural Royal Trophy will tee off the New Year where Asia will face Europe in a Ryder Cup-style shootout in Bangkok .

The Qualifying School precedes the Pakistan Open where a record entry is expected to converge in Malaysia in January to vie for playing privileges on the Asian Tour.

The Pakistan Open will make its debut as the first full field event on the Asian Tour in Karachi from January 19-22, followed by the Qatar Masters, Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia , Malaysian Open and Myanmar Open, all to be played in February.

The rapid growth of professional golf in India sees the emergence of a new event, the US$300,000 Amby Valley Masters from March 2-5.

The Volvo China Open, traditionally held in the latter part of the season, will be held back-to-back with the BMW Asian Open, also in China , in April where both the lucrative tournaments are co-sanctioned with the European Tour.

The Asian Tour stars will head full speed to Seoul for the SK Telecom Open during the first week of May, followed by the Maekyung Open, also in Korea .

The popular Macau Open and Philippine Open will occupy the second half of May while the Bangkok Airways Open, which made its debut on the Schedule last month, has been brought forward to June next year.

Following the traditional summer break, the Asian Tour will resume in full earnest with the staging of the second edition of the Brunei Open in August, which has increased its prize money to US$500,000.

Malaysia will also welcome a brand new tournament with the inaugural US$300,000 Johor Open at Pulai Springs Golf Club to be played the week prior to the cash-rich Singapore Open, which will offer in excess of US$2 million at Sentosa Golf Club.

It will be the first time in many years that Malaysia will stage a new Asian Tour event.

After the staging of the Korean Open, the Taipei swing will consists of the Taiwan Open in the third week of September, followed by the Mercuries Taiwan Masters. The Hero Honda Indian Open and Crowne Plaza Open in China occupy the slots in October.

The successful launch of the HSBC Champions tournament last week, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian, European, PGA Tour of Australasia and Sunshine ( Southern Africa ) Tours , sees the return of Asia 's richest tournament to China in November, followed by the UBS Hong Kong Open from November 16-19.

The season-ending Volvo Masters of Asia will be played at Thai Country Club once again from December 14-17 but Martin said that the two weeks prior to the Volvo event should be filled up as well on the calendar.

"With our players producing great performances across Asia 's finest fairways, sponsors have supported the Asian Tour in a very big way. A clear indication of how fast we have grown can be observed through the players' earnings this season.

"The current Order of Merit leader Thaworn Wirartchant has won over US$450,000 this season alone, which is a new record for money earned in a single year, while second-ranked Thongchai Jaidee has also surpassed his career-best winnings with four more events to play this season," added Martin.


Dec 18-21 : Asia Japan Okinawa Open+, Naha GC, Japan , US$830,000

Jan 4-7: Qualifying School, Stage One, Seri Selangor GC, Palm Resort GCC, Malaysia

Jan 5-8: The Royal Trophy (s), Amata Spring CC, Thailand

January 11-14: Qualifying School, Final Stage, Seri Selangor GC, Palm Resort GCC, Malaysia

Jan 19-22: Pakistan Open, Karachi GC, US$200,000

Jan 26-29: Qatar Masters*, Doha GC, US$2 million

Feb 9-12: Johnnie Walker Classic**, The Vines RCC, Australia , US$1.2 million

Feb 16-19: Malaysian Open*, Kuala Lumpur GCC, US$1.21 million

Feb 23-26: Myanmar Open, Pun Hlaing GC, US$200,000

Mar 2-5: Amby Valley Masters, Amby Valley Sahara Lake City, US$300,000

Mar 16-19: TCL Classic*, Venue to be announced, China , US$1 million

Apr 6-9: The Open Championship International Final Qualifying, Asia , Sentosa GC, Singapore

Apr 13-16: Volvo China Open*, Hong Hua GC, US$1.3 million

Apr 20-23: BMW Asian Open*, Tomson GC, China , US$1.5 million

May 4-7: SK Telecom Open, Il Dong Lakes GC, Korea , US$500,000

May 11-14: Maekyung Open , Nam Seoul CC, Korea , US$500,000

May 18-21: Macau Open, Macau GCC, US$275,000

May 25-28: Philippine Open, Cagayan De Oro GC, US$200,000

June 1-4: Bangkok Airways Open, Santiburi Samui GC, Thailand , US$300,000

Aug 24-27: Brunei Open, Empire Hotel GCC, US$500,000

Aug 31-Sept 3: Johor Open, Pulai Springs GC, Malaysia , US$300,000

Sept 7-10: Singapore Open, Sentosa GC, US$2 million

Sept 14-17: Korean Open , Nam Seoul CC, US$750,000

Sept 21-24: Taiwan Open, Chang Gung CC, US$400,000

Sept 28-Oct 1: Mercuries Taiwan Masters , Taiwan GCC, US$400,000

Oct 5-8: Hero Honda Indian Open, Delhi GC, US$300,000

Oct 19-22: Crowne Plaza Open, Tycoon Golf Club , China , US$200,000

Nov 9-12: HSBC Champions (s), Sheshan International GC, China , US$5 million

Nov 16-19: UBS Hong Kong Open*, Hong Kong GC, US$1.2 million

Dec 14-17: Volvo Masters of Asia , Thai Country Club , Thailand , US$600,000

Note: Prize money are minimum levels.

+ co-sanctioned with Japan Golf Tour Organisation

* co-sanctioned with European Tour

* * tri-sanctioned with European Tour and PGA Tour of Australasia

(s) Special Event

November 17, 2005

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