Asian Tour Commissioner Cho Minn Thant sits on the Official Golf World Rankings (OWGR) committee but he admits it comes as a ‘shock’ to him that this week’s Asian Tour Saudi International attracts less World Ranking points than the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
The inaugural 2023 Asian Tour event boasts the strongest field of any tournament this New Year with 12 major champions initially in the field ahead of the withdrawal, due to a lower back strain, of the double major winning Dustin Johnson.
In contrast, the PGA Tour’s event in California featured eight similar winners at the game’s highest level.
However, as we know, it’s not major champions in your tournament that counts towards the allocation of World Ranking points but despite the Saudi event running rings around the event taking place along the shores of the Pacific Ocean, there is 37.4 World Ranking points on offer to the winner of the pro-am AT&T event compared to 24 points to the champion in the fifth hosting of the Saudi International.
It’s a similar argument that was taking place with regards to Jon Rahm winning two of his four victories from late 2022 to early 2023 but not moving from being ranked World No. 5. Victory in the American Express, and his fourth taste of success in a six-event run, saw him jump to No. 4 while a seventh last week at Torrey Pines took the Spaniard to No. 3.
The highest world ranked player this week in Saudi is reigning Open Champion Cameron Smith at No. 4 in the world with th next best being the No. 16 ranked Cameron Young while Viktor Hovland, at No. 11 in the world, is the top-ranked walking the fairways of Pebble Beach.
It doesn’t seem fair to those competing along the Red Sea shoreline with Cho voicing strong opinions regardless of his position on the OWGR committee.
“As you know I’m on the Official Golf World Ranking technical committee, and we are discussing the feedback that we have received from all the players across the tours, not just the Asian Tour, the European Tour, the smaller tours, India, Thailand, the Alps Tour, etc and we’re examining it,” he said.
“Obviously it’s very different to the way it used to be, but it is a shock to the system for a field such as this week’s Asian Tour event that used to get a massive amount of points to what is now just 24 points for the winner this week, and it might have come down because DJ was included in that initial projection.
“It’s not disapproval from my side, it’s just how it really is. We’re definitely going to bring it up in a full review of the points the Asian Tour is receiving and all the other tours around the world. There is a review in process and it’ll be discussed for sure.
“So, it’s a little bit different from before but we do feel it needs to be looked at”.
In Cho’s short time as Asian Tour CEO it’s no understatement to say that under his leadership he’s taken the Tour from being on its knees during the Covid pandemic to a very strong ‘never before’ position in men’s professional golf.
He joined the Asian Tour in 2007, holding numerous positions within the organisation before assuming the role of Chief Operating Officer in October 2016. Three years later, he would be promoted to CEO.
Working closely with the Chairman and Board of Directors, Cho is in charge of leading the strategic direction of the Asian Tour, with his primary responsibilities, since 2019, being the tournament schedule, commercial development and overall management of International Federation matters.
It was 12 months ago here in Saudi we had the announcement of ‘The International Series’, it seems that the Tour with a $300 million investment and a 10-year alliance is securing a strong-looking future.
“We are on the threshold of a new era for Asian golf,” says Cho. “The International Series is a new upper-tier of elite events, the likes of which the region has not seen before, that will mark the start of a phenomenal period of growth for the Asian Tour”.
This week’s $US5m is a first of what will be 12 tournaments, and in nine different countries up till the end of June, with a further 13 events up to year’s end to be announced in coming weeks.