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Asian Tour players to boycott OneAsia Super Series

Asian Tour players will boycott tournaments sanctioned by the new OneAsia circuit, tour chief Kyi Hla Han said on Thursday, raising the stakes in the furious row over the future of professional golf in the region.

Han described the new tour, which aims to build an elite circuit in the Asia-Pacific to rival the dominant U.S. and European tours, as an Australian “invasion” of Asia and said his players would have nothing to do with it. “Our players, including our Australian members, are united and will not compete in OneAsia events,” the Asian Tour’s executive chairman told Reuters by e-mail.

“We have had player meetings as recently as Tuesday this week and they are unanimous in agreeing to not play in OneAsia events.

“The players know that we will continue to grow and will always act in their best interest. They would not give that up for a fledging tour who is selectively inviting players without being able to provide even the most fundamental event details.”

The first of the six tournaments fixed for 2009 by the OneAsia Tour, four of which were on the 30-event Asian Tour schedule last year, is next month’s China Open in Beijing.

The Asian Tour was “disappointed” at the China Golf Association (CGA)’s confirmation last week that the $2.2 million event would be switching to OneAsia after 13 years association with the established circuit, Han said.

Comments from CGA chief Zhang Xiaoning that the Asian Tour had not provided “enough benefits” for Chinese players were “not accurate” and the tour still wanted “a healthy long-term relationship” with the governing body of Chinese golf, he said.

“Our relationship with the CGA has always been amicable until the PGA of Australia approached them to form OneAsia,” he said.

Despite the backing of Korea and China—Zhang said in future all events in China would be OneAsia sanctioned—Han clearly sees the Australian PGA as the driving force behind the OneAsia tour and renewed his attack on it.

“The PGA of Australia has conducted itself poorly in Asia where it has violated protocols and acted unethically by not recognising the Asian Tour as the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia,” he said.

“Australia has essentially invaded Asia, cannibalised existing Asian Tour events and called them their own.”

Asked whether there was any possibility of compromise with the rival tour, Han answered “No”.

Australian PGA commissioner Ben Sellenger told Reuters last week that he was baffled by the motives of the Asian Tour, which has been part of discussions going back eight years over the formation of an elite tour in the region.

“They’ve certainly been involved in discussions from the beginning and they certainly understand the concept and have made an active decision to go their own way, which we respect,” he said.

Han said the European Tour, which co-sanctions the China Open and other big events in Asia, and the Japan Golf Tour, which initially backed the new tour before withdrawing, had “clearly indicated” their support for the Asian Tour.

“To also say that OneAsia will offer a platform higher than the Asian Tour is totally irresponsible and unfounded … Australia has not brought anything new onto the table and is simply doing this to revive its flagging domestic Tour.”


March 26, 2009

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