Fine & Ban Facing Asian Tour Members Who Play In Beijing

Asian Tour members who opt to play in next month's Volvo China Open without an official release will face a fine of $5,000 and a suspension of membership for the remainder of the 2009. That was the verdict of Asian Tour executive chairman Kyi Hla Han following a meeting of his members at this week's Black Mountain Masters in Hua Hin, Thailand.

The move is the latest development in the wake of the announcement of the launch of the OneAsia Super Series, which has brought increasing confusion and disharmony to the region's professional golfing landscape.

In a statement the Asian Tour said: "Despite much negotiations with the China Golf Association, the Volvo China Open will not be sanctioned with the Asian Tour. We will still maintain an entry list, which will be used should the situation change before close of entries on April 2."

As things stand, though, the Asian Tour has been frozen out of the tournament. Han said players who are dual members of the Asian and European Tour would be able to play in Beijing without penalty, as well as mainland Chinese players.

Launched by the Australasian PGA Tour, the China Golf Association, the Korean Golf Association and the Korean PGA, OneAsia has revealed a six-strong schedule for 2009, teeing off with the $2.2 million Volvo China Open in Beijing April 16-19. The event had previously been co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the European Tour.

In a notice to Asian Tour members entitled "One Asia Release Policy" that was posted on notice boards at the Black Mountain Golf Club, Han said: "During a Tournament Players Committee (TPC) meeting in Hua Hin, the TPC agreed to enforce the release policy for all OneAsia events in 2009, as stipulated in the Asian Tour Members Handbook and General Regulations.

"If any Asian Tour member plays in OneAsia events without a release from the Asian Tour, a fine of $5,000 and a suspension of membership for the remainder of the 2009 season will be imposed.

"As a former player, it is not my intention to prevent playing opportunities to our members, but the manner in which OneAsia has pushed on with its plans without the official involvement on the Asian Tour is detrimental to the future growth of the Asian Tour.

"The TPC has determined that the enforcement of the release policy is necessary due to extreme circumstances created by OneAsia.

"It has inevitably created a lot of confusion in the market place in Asia which could lead to sponsors pulling out from professional golf and ultimately affecting the Asian Tour and our members.

"The TPC and management will continue to work in the best interests of our members and your continued support is vital and appreciated.

"The Asian Tour remains engaged in dialogue with the China Golf Association in hope of a resolution to the issue pertaining to the Volvo China Open. Should there be any further updates, we will inform our members."

The above article originally appeared in Asian Golf Monthly.

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