Sport & Culture

Asian Golf at War

Golf’s Asian Tour isn’t happy about new kid on the block OneAsia Tour. Some players feel differently.

John Duerden

In one corner you have the Asian Tour, and in the other is OneAsia Tour.

A court case is being heard this week in Singapore that involves both of them.

OneAsia are the new kids at the tee, and came into being in 2009, when the PGA Tour of Australasia, the Korean Golf Association, the Korean PGA and China Golf came together.

The Asian Tour was founded in 1995, and is a much bigger organization. But it doesn’t like the competition, and believes that Asian golf isn’t big enough for the both of them.

Asian Tour CEO Kyi Hla Han will be in court this week defending the company against a lawsuit from four golfers.Matthew Griffin played in four OneAsia events, fellow Australian Terry Pilkadaris played in three, while Guido van der Valk and Anis Helmi Hassan from the Netherlands and Malaysia respectively, also went over to the other side for a while.

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What they are complaining about now is the fact they were fined $5,000 by the Asian Tour for doing so. They’ve refused to pay, and have been suspended.

The players say they should be free to play where they want as it can be a very expensive game.Pilkadaris told Reuters that it could cost him upwards of $4,000 a week just to play, and in 2009 he earned just shy of $100,000 from the Asian Tour.

“Whilst it costs me several thousands of dollars to travel each week, it’s often four times this a week to travel with my wife and children,” he said. “Keeping in mind I only have a chance to earn money each week, this becomes a very expensive sport to play. Most players ranked outside the top 100 in the world don’t have sponsorship, so all of these expenses are paid by the players.”

It’s a reasonable assumption that Han won’t see it this way, and he told AFP in 2010 what he thought of OneAsia,

“[R]ight now, they are flat out stealing our tournaments and forcefully doing it.”

He also defended the $5,000 policy.

“Our release policy is exactly what the PGA Tour and European Tour has in their handbooks,” he said.“We’re not doing anything different, and I think it is necessary. It has been very successful. You look at the players taking action and it’s a very small minority. If I had 50 players doing that, then I would see a problem.”