Asian Tour can stand proud following historic men’s pro golf coming together

Bernie McGuire

Asia Tour CEO Cho-Minn-Thant

The totally unexpected announcement yesterday of the merger of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour with the Saudi-backed LIV Tour will not only just affect the now trio of unified tours in men’s pro golf.

The Asian Tour, for decades before the emergence of LIV Golf, had been the unofficial third ranked Tour in men’s professional golf though they’ve been the hardest hit in recent years, first by the worldwide Covid pandemic and then the emergence of the inaugural LIV Golf tournament a year ago on Friday.

After a 26-tournament schedule in 2019, the Asian Tour hosted just a combined nine tournaments over two years and one month in 2020, 2021 and up to including two events in January 2022.


There was some sense of getting back to normality in the bigger picture last year with an additional 22 tournaments from February through to December appearing on the schedule, including six of the now highly-successful ‘International Series’ events.

However, it was the Asian Tour’s involvement with the first LIV Golf event, and the June 9th, 2022 LIV Golf London, that ‘hurt’ the Asian Tour’s relationship with those others involved with the running of golf.  The Asian Tour soon found itself being greeted with a ‘cold shoulder’ by the likes of the DP World Tour and the R&A.

In speaking on a handful of occasions last year and earlier this year with Asian Tour Commissioner Cho Minn Thant, he talked about the Asian Tour’s disappointment at the breakdown in the long alliance the Tour enjoyed with the DP World Tour, and ever since 1999 when American Jerry Norquist captured the Benson and Hedges Malaysian Open.

He spoke of how that that all changed when the DP World Tour formed their alliance with the PGA Tour and also when the Asian Tour kicked-off their now highly-successful ‘International Series’.

Then there was then the treatment around this time last year by the R&A when the St. Andrews-based body revoked the exemption for the Asian Tour Order of Merit winner to be exempt into the following year’s Open Championship. The R&As decision a direct result of the Asian Tour’s introduction of the International Series. Naturally, Aussie Wade Ormsby, who was leading the Asian Tour Order of Merit at the time, was left speechless.

You see, like the LIV Golf Invitational Series, the Asian Tour’s  International Series is financially backed by LIV Golf Investments and subsequently, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, the same body that will see it’s Chairman Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan now be the boardroom head of the new PGA/DP World/LIV Golf combined body.

This cold shoulder treatment continued between both the DP World Tour and the Asian Tour on in to 2023, and was no more evident than when European Tour CEO Keith Pelley hosted a small group of journalists ahead of this year’s Hero Dubai Desert Classic, where he was asked: “What is your relationship with the Asian Tour?”

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

Also, earlier this year we had the absurd situation of the DP World Tour playing back-to-back events in Singapore and Thailand, right in the Asian Tour’s virtual front yard, without the ‘professional courtesy’ as Thant described it, of advising the Asian Tour.

Of course, we will soon see the Asian Tour hosting ‘stand alone’ events in England and on the outskirts of the Home of Golf and naturally the Asian Tour has welcomed and embraced yesterday’s news, and it’s Commissioner Thant can rightfully take pride in how the Asian Tour has conducted itself over a highly-difficult past year or so.

“This is a massive stride forward for the game and a great result for all parties concerned: the fans, brands, broadcasters, the Tours and their membership”, said Commissioner Thant in an Asian Tour news release.

“This hugely significant development validates our well documented decision to collaborate with Golf Saudi and LIV Golf to elevate the Asian Tour’s standing in the game. We were always confident a solution would be found, and we are delighted it has come so soon following a turbulent period for golf globally.

“The Asian Tour looks forward to contributing to the ongoing dialogue and playing our part in helping to build a model and structure for the Tours to work together so that we can all enjoy what will arguably be the most exciting period for professional golf”.

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