Asian Tour says Europe merger will be game-changer

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY DANIEL HICKS

The merger of two of the world’s ma­jor golf tours will see the largest shake-up of the pro­fes­sional game since the Euro­pean Tour was cre­ated more than 40 years ago, Asian Tour CEO Mike Kerr told AFP.

The Euro­pean and Asian tours de­clared last week that they in­tend to com­bine their play­ing mem­ber­ships and busi­ness deal­ings into a mega-tour that will stretch from the At­lantic coast of Ire­land to the shores of the Pa­cific in the Far East.

“I can’t think of any­thing big­ger,” Kerr said in a phone in­ter­view, when asked whether it was golf’s most im­por­tant de­vel­op­ment since the Euro­pean Tour’s cre­ation in 1972.

Kerr said de­tails of the new tour could be an­nounced very soon as talks to ham­mer out the de­tails were al­ready at an ad­vanced stage.

“We are work­ing through this as fast as we can,” he said. “I don’t en­vis­age it will be a pro­tracted and pro­longed process. In some way we’ve been through at least some of the tough dis­cus­sions and ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween us and now it’s about com­ing to­gether and mak­ing this a re­al­ity. When we get fur­ther de­tails that we are able to de­liver I think we will do that. There’s no rea­son for us to hold back.”

Kerr said dis­cus­sions were “con­fi­den­tial” but did con­firm that there would in fu­ture be just one tour with a sin­gle mem­ber­ship com­pris­ing the cur­rent play­ers on the Euro­pean and Asia Tours. “This will in­volve the merger of the mem­ber­ships and the merger of the busi­ness,” he said. “You can make that leap, yes, to say there will be a sin­gle mem­ber­ship.

“It will be based on merit and the Asian Tour mem­bers will ef­fec­tively get ac­cess to the en­tire sched­ule of tour­na­ments that would be in­cluded in any fu­ture tour.”

Kerr says ul­ti­mately the tours are there to ben­e­fit their mem­bers — the play­ers — and the merger will en­sure long-term sta­bil­ity in a sport which has seen some events dis­ap­pear from the cal­en­dar in re­cent years. “I don’t think that we would have em­barked on this had we not be­lieved that ac­tu­ally it would sat­isfy our core pur­pose, to de­liver more earn­ings and more op­por­tu­ni­ties for all of our mem­bers,” he said.

He said that the an­nounce­ment had been well re­ceived within the game and it now was a case of talk­ing to the play­ers and en­sur­ing they un­der­stood the plan and were com­fort­able with it. “We are now start­ing that process on both sides. Ev­ery­thing that I have heard, ei­ther through the media, through part­ners, spon­sors or from play­ers has been very pos­i­tive. Quite hon­estly there has been no neg­a­tiv­ity what­so­ever. Most im­por­tantly we need to get to our mem­bers, to en­sure they un­der­stand these de­tails, to en­sure they’re com­fort­able with them and ef­fec­tively ap­prove them go­ing for­ward.”

He would not be drawn on whether this would mean the end of their strug­gling ri­vals, the OneAsia Tour, which has staged just six tour­na­ments so far in 2015. “You will have to ask them,” he said, but added the merger would start to mend Asia’s “frac­tured” golf scene.

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