Asian Tour Denounces Rival Series

The Asian Tour has condemned organizers of a rival continental golf series and will seek clarification on the involvement of Chinese events it sanctions. The Asian Tour released a statement Sunday saying it "strongly condemns" moves to set up the six-event series in 2009 - three in China, two in Australia and one in South Korea - with plans to expand further in 2010.

The yet-to-be-named new series, promoted by the Professional Golfers Association of Australia, the China Golf Association and the Korean Golf Association, released a 2009 schedule Friday including the China Open - co-sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours - plus the China Classic and Beijing Open, which are Asian Tour events.

"The Asian Tour is shocked and disapproves of this desperate attempt by the PGA of Australia to revive its flagging domestic circuit, through its proposed creation of a series by listing events which are already part of the Asian Tour schedule," the Asian Tour's executive chairman, Kyi Hla Han, said in the statement.

Talks between the Asian Tour and Chinese golf officials were expected to begin after the Lunar New Year holiday this week.

Initially, the rival series was to also include events in Japan and the involvement of golf authorities there. But the Asian Tour claimed the continuing support of the Japan Golf Tour Organization, which runs the Japan Tour, including a notice of support in the statement Sunday.

The Asian Tour, the successor to the Asian PGA first played in 1995, will sanction 28 tournaments across the region in its 2009 calendar, with 16 of them co-sanctioned by either the European Tour or the Japanese, Korean, Indian or Australasian tours.

The increased presence in Asia of the European Tour had created friction in recent years, as the Asian Tour sought to assert its primacy in the region. The Asian Tour also sought to establish cooperation with the powerful national golf tours across northern Asia.

The new attempt to set up a rival series, with plans to expand further in 2010, was a serious challenge to the Asian Tour's attempts to establish itself as the main pan-Asian sanctioning body.

Sunday's statement said the PGA of Australia's role in the new series was "against the spirit of the game and the ideals of the International Federation of PGA Tours. The Asian Tour is willing to work with the PGA Tour of Australia to assist its ailing golf tour but we are extremely disappointed with the manner in which the PGA of Australia continues to act," the statement said.

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