Asian Tour Commissioner questions lack of professional courtesy as DP World Tour teeing-up in Singapore & Thailand

Bernie McGuire

Asia Tour CEO Cho-Minn-Thant

Bernie McGuire

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You would feel that if you’re planning to play in someone’s front yard, it would be common courtesy beforehand to advise the owner.

So, why is the DP World Tour going ahead in arranging back-to-back tournaments, firstly this week’s inaugural Singapore Classic and also next week’s first hosting of the Thailand Classic, without a word of professional courtesy to the Asian Tour?

The Asian Tour is headquartered in Singapore and they’ve long enjoyed hosting co-sanctioned events with the European Tour but with what is taking place in men’s professional golf, and also what we’re hearing in the continuing spat between the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and LIV Golf, any display of courtesy would seem to be a sign of weakness.

Asian Tour Commissioner Cho Minn Thant met with five journalists attending the Saudi International and spoke frankly and openly on matters affecting the increasingly revitalised Asian Tour, including and his thoughts on this move by the DP World Tour and whether or not the UK-based body extended the courtesy to formally advised the Asian Tour of their plans to play tournaments in both Singapore and Thailand.

”No! No they didn’t. Not a word”, said Cho in response when asked if the DP World Tour extended such courtesy.

“We had nothing directly from the DP World Tour; they would be hosting events in Singapore and Thailand however it is a small industry and we find out what everyone else is doing soon enough.

“So, there was no courtesy advice as to what they were planning but, I guess, that is the nature of the relationship now.

“The Asian Tour would never wish to hold an event in Europe without the permission of the European Tour, and we have never done that as the Asian Tour.

“Whenever we go to a particular country we always respect the relevant PGA body or association by advising on our proposals and extending the offer of say 15, 20, 30 spots in the tournament depending on how strong the association is.

“We’ve always done that with India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and so on.”

“The DP World Tour is clearly aligned with the PGA Tour, so they have their plans and either co-sanctioning or liaising with the Asian Tour is not part of their plans. It’s unfortunate but like I said, it’s not as though we don’t hear about their plans through the grapevine”.

Cho was asked if he felt the DP World Tour was being a little childish in their manners responding by saying: “I’m sure it is but look, the Asian Tour never would do that and we would always work together with domestic PGAs and associations.

“That is what we are doing even with the DGC Open in Delhi next month though the PGI (Professional Golf Association of India) is not permitted to work through us given their relationship with the DP World Tour now.

“So, we’ve reallocated their spots to Indian-born golfers through invitations. We still feel strongly that Indian players should be very much a part of that tournament and we need them to play”.

The cold shoulder treatment between both the DP World Tour and the Asian Tour was no more evident when European Tour CEO Keith Pelley also hosted a small group of journalists ahead of the recent Hero Dubai Desert Classic and where he was asked: “What is your relationship with the Asian Tour?”

Pelley’s blunt reply was: “We don’t have one!”

This is so different to the events of 24-years ago this week when American Jerry Norquist created history in capturing the 1999 Benson and Hedges Malaysian Open, and the very first co-sanctioned Asian and European Tour event.

Malaysia became a regular destination for European players, having the opportunity to compete in Asia at the early time of a new year while Europe was locked in winter.

Singapore also hosted the co-sanctioned Singapore Open from 2009 to 2012, and along with the Johnnie Walker Classic in 1993 and 1996.

However, it does seem the Asian Tour door remains open should matters change.

“I still feel I have a relationship with the European Tour. I sit on the World Golf Rankings Committee and Keith Waters is on that same committee with me”, said Cho.

“Keith is also the representative on that committee with a number of the smaller tour’s, so there is clearly a relationship there. Ben Cowan, who used to undertake a lot of business out here in the region of the world and is, in fact, still taking care of Asian business, and I still keep in contact from time-to-time.

“And there is still professional courtesy from my side and the Asian Tour”.

It prompted another question to Cho and how does he see the position of the Asian Tour given the ever-growing relationship between the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour given the allocation of 10 PGA Tour cards at the end of 2023 to the leading DP World Tour money-earners already not exempt, plus the sight of PGA Tour officials in Dubai looking at the facilities in place for the Hero Dubai Desert Classic and in a move you could say may lead to the Middle East DP World Tour Swing being also aligned with the PGA Tour.

“I think the Asian Tour is a bit of an anomaly right how”, he said.

“We are outside of that alliance that the PGA Tour and the European Tour have. We used to be aligned with the European Tour through the alliance we had in place but we are very much independent now.

“And for the majority of the Asian Tour membership that is fine as we are playing for more money and we are playing in new destinations. We are a strong tour and there is a future playing on the Asian Tour.’

“You now don’t have to progress you career by going overseas.

“So, I still feel we could have a professional relationship without being formally aligned with the European Tour but I do feel we should learn to still co-exist in the golfing sense”.

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