BANGKOK Dec 8 The Asian Tour is giving serious
consideration to joining a regional "super tour" to compete
with the PGA and European circuits, although concerns remain
over how it will affect players.
The tour's executive chairman, Kyi Hla Han, welcomed the
proposed creation of the OneAsia Tour in 2009, but said a lot
was at stake for the Asian Tour and a decision on joining the
circuit with Japan, Australia and New Zealand had to be taken
"The concept and vision of this tour is very positive and
we're looking at it very seriously," Han told Reuters in an
interview on Saturday.
"But it's not just about only these tours now, we've got to
bring in the big countries in Asia like China, Korea and India.
It's got to be a positive step for all golfers in the region.
It has to be a win-win situation."
Han said there was more at stake for his tour because there
were more players, more countries and more issues involved.
"We're being a little bit more careful, taking a little bit
more time to make a decision because Japan is one country and
one tour, as is Australia," he said.
"If we split the field into three tours, there will be a
lot of reservations from the players. I've got 17 different
countries and 24 different nationalities as our members, so
there are a lot more complications for us.
"However, if it's something that the corporate marketplace
supports, it will be good," he added.
Han, a former professional player from Myanmar who topped
the Asian Tour's money list in 1999, said serious discussions
with the other circuits, which have already signed a Memorandum
of Understanding, will begin in the next few weeks.
He expects a decision to be taken within three-to-six
months on whether to sign-up to the mooted circuit.
"We're going to have a talk with Australian and Japanese
Tours and if we agree to start, we start together," he said.
"Scheduling will be a huge factor, it will be tough and we
need to develop a system where players competing in this elite
tour get on through performance, it has to be
"All three tours are player-led. We have to make sure each
can sustain itself at a local level, but on a global scale,
this tour would be pretty powerful."
Han said his loyalties rested with the members of his own
tour -- the only recognised pan-Asian circuit -- which he said
would have to have the biggest say if it joined the pact.
"The Asian Tour should be in full control of this. To make
it work and we become in control of both tours, the OneAsia and
the Asian Tour.
"I've got to make sure the Asian Tour sustains itself in
the marketplace. It's crucial that I protect it and its
members," he said of the tour, which will feature 25 events in
16 countries next year., with a prize pot of over $27 million.
His main fear, he said, would be that the proposed super
tour would try to focus on a select number of big-money events,
which would overshadow the other tournaments.
However, Han believes a OneAsia tour would boost the
competitiveness of the Asian game and keep the continent's best
players at home.
"This will enhance development and keep our players from
going to Europe or the United States," he said. "The sponsors
would pay good money and would the best players to play."
(Editing by John O'Brien)