Spare a moment for the plight of a small handful of golfers this week contesting the penultimate event of the Covid-19 devastated 2021 Asian Tour season
The few, including Aussies Wade Ormsby, Scott Hend and American John Catlin, have for many years been loyal members of both the Asian Tour and the now renamed DP World Tour. They’ve supported both Tours without a hint of restriction, restraint of trade, denial of choice or whatever you want to call it, up until now, as their desire to earn a living playing both Tours, as Ormsby has done for 20-years, is suddenly being stopped.
While we’ve been reading about the likes of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson teeing-up in next February’s Asian Tour backed Saudi International, what’s been lost in this conversation is the plight of the likes of the two Aussies, Catlin and we understand Thailand’s talented Jazz Janewattananond and Malaysian Gavin Green. The four, aside from Ormsby, are also former Asian Tour No. 1s.
Each sought (though not fully sure with regards ‘Jazz’ and Green) and were granted a DP World Tour release to contest the final two events on the 2021 Asian Tour schedule. Five of the events were from January to March with the closing two being this week’s Blue Canyon Phuket Championship and next week’s Laguna Phuket Championship.
The 41-year-old Adelaide-born Ormsby presently leads the Tour’s Order of Merit by some $US 47,000 with just the two events remaining in a horror season for golf’s third biggest tour that can boast just seven events throughout 2021. Ormsby posted a pair of 69s to be sitting in a tie for ninth at six-under, six shots back of the lead.
At stake in the bigger picture for Ormsby is, should he end the year as Asian Tour No. 1, he earns a tee time into next July’s 150th hosting of the Open Championship. For someone who turned pro 20-years ago and is yet to contest golf’s oldest major, Ormsby’s fight over these two weeks is career-defining despite the fact he’s won three times in his career, including the European Tour sanctioned 2017 UBS Hong Kong Open.
You see, if the trio also wish to tee-up in the $5m Saudi event they will again require another release from the DP World Tour and it’s understood Pelley has already said ‘NO’
with capital letters and the likely threat of membership suspension should they tee-up on the course laid out along the Red Sea.
So, if you’re Wade Ormsby looking to proudly tee-up as the reigning Asian Tour No .1 in the $US5m Saudi International but you’re being threatened with a ban from the DP World Tour, a Tour you have supported faithfully every season since 2004, what do you do?
The Telegraph reported recently that Pelley is not willing to compromise and will indeed Sanction any member who decides to play regardless. Except, in a calculated move by the Tour, the type and the scale of the punishment will not be revealed to the rebels until after the event.
The pros will not even know what they will be risking if they accept the Saudi cheque, some of which will feature numbers well into the millions. The same stringent tactics are thought to have been adopted by the PGA Tour and its Commissioner, Jay Monahan.
On top of talk of sanctions to play the Saudi International, the DP World Tour is ready to flex its muscles and not authorise the likes of Paul Casey and Matt Fitzpatrick to play January’s Asian Tour sanctioned Singapore Open, even though it is being held without any talk of Saudi money. For years, European Tour members have been free to play the Singapore Open but not anymore.
2022 is appropriately the ‘Year of the Tiger’ and with DP World Tour and the PGA Tour clearly determined to stop any players competing in Saudi, and now for that matter in Singapore, it seems we’re already staring at a golfing cat-fight the likes not seen before. Will the winner be the one with the sharpest claws?
- Asian Tour scoring HERE