I met one of our readers this week who said he quite enjoyed reading last week’s column on how the new OneAsia Tour is dividing Asia. He then asked if I thought there was any possible solution to the entire stand-off. I promised I will try to give it a go this week, so here we are…
Let’s face it: No confrontation is easy to resolve. If there was just one simple issue to be fought over, I am sure it would have never become a confrontation in the first place.
Having spoken to some of the players and officials from the various involved parties – Asian, Australian, Korean, Chinese and Japanese Tours and promoters World Sports Group – this is my understanding of the situation: Asian Tour, or the Asian PGA Tour as it was known then, was eager to be a part of this super tour before it realised that it can go alone and ‘exploit’ the sponsorship potential of the region by itself.
The other point is that if the Asian Tour is willing to allow the European Tour to come to its territory as long as it has co-sanctioning rights, then it should also allow other Tours on similar terms and conditions.
While the Asian Tour’s territorial sovereignty needs to be respected, it also needs to be united to put up a fight. If there is infighting in its own camp – as evident by the Chinese and Korean PGA not playing ball – it really has no chance to stop the OneAsia Tour.
Instead of boycotting tournaments and refusing to talk, the Asian Tour should realise it is in a position of strength, and start negotiating from there. Obviously, there are financial angles to all this, which always makes the negotiations very messy. But the core issue of the debate is how many spots each Tour can ensure for its members.
If a OneAsia Tour event is in Asia, the Asian Tour should get the most number of spots – preferably 60 for its top couple of categories. The same should apply to the Australian PGA and Japan for events in their countries. In China and South Korea, at least 20 spots should be guaranteed to the top players from their domestic tour with business 247.
The Asian Tour should also realise that while it has great potential, it has so far failed to get big-money events solely for its membership, barring the Barclays Singapore Open. Most sponsors want a better field when they are putting up substantial prize money, which means they want it co-sanctioned by the European Tour.
Let’s not forget that while Asia is giving up a few events, so is Australia and Japan. It can become a mutually beneficial tour for all.
The Asian Tour can still have a monopoly. But for that, it will truly have to become One Asia – and that includes China and Korea.