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Tour News (posted 13th August 1998)

Johnnie Walker Classic joins Asian PGA Tour

Hong Kong, 13th August, 1998 - Asian professional golf received a major boost today when it was announced that the Johnnie Walker Classic will form part of the Asian PGA's Omega Tour in 1999.

For the first time in its nine-year history, the Johnnie Walker Classic will be tri-sanctioned by the PGA European Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Asian PGA, giving Asia's finest golfers the opportunity to play alongside the top players in the world.

"We are delighted that the PGA European Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia have decided to tri-sanction the 1999 Johnnie Walker Classic with the Asian PGA," said Ramlan Dato Harun, Executive Director Asian PGA.

"It clearly shows the spirit of co-operation that exists within the PGA Tours International Federation with regards to the sanctioning of events, and it is just the sort of development we have been seeking for professional golf in Asia.

"The Johnnie Walker Classic is a truly world-class event and attracts many of the leading players from around the world. Our members will be thrilled to play in such a quality field and I have no doubt it will benefit them immensely. It is a very exciting development for professional golf in the region."

The 1999 Johnnie Walker Classic will feature 60 players from the European and Australasian Tours, and the top 32 competitors from the Asian PGA's Omega Order of Merit.

"The Johnnie Walker Classic is one of the world's most significant golf events, attracting some of the strongest fields in the Southern Hemisphere," said Arthur Sanderson, Executive Director PGA Tour of Australasia.

"Australian Tour members look forward to the return of the tournament, and its unique international blend of players across the range of Asian settings, which the Johnnie Walker Classic visits. I can assure you that the Australasian representation will once again be of the highest level."

The tri-sanctioning of the 1999 Johnnie Walker Classic represents the first significant development for Asian professional golf since the Asian PGA was accepted into the PGA Tours International Federation during The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale last month.

The tournament has also been moved from its traditional January date, when it served as the season-opener for the PGA European Tour, to November 10-14, 1999.

"By changing the event to November 1999, we are able to gain better access to more strategically important markets for Johnnie Walker in Asia," said Steven Foxcroft, Brands PR Director, United Distillers and Vintners, Asia.

Foxcroft added that organisers are currently negotiating with prospective host venues in Asia, as well as international players to
play alongside the leading players from Asia and Australia.

The 1998 Johnnie Walker Classic in Phuket, Thailand, produced one of the most thrilling finishes in recent PGA European Tour history, as world number one Tiger Woods came back from an eight shot deficit on the final day to defeat reigning champion Ernie Els on the first hole of a sudden-death play-off.

Past winner of the event also include Nick Faldo, Fred Couples, Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam, while Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng finished as the leading Asian this year after tying for eighth place.