Having muscled its way into Asian Tour territory with the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, before setting-up the PGA Tour China Series, as Mike Wilson reveals, the US-based circuit is now expanding into Korea, Japan and even global domination on the cards wi
The PGA Tour is now expanding into Korea, Japan and even global domination on the cards with minimal resistance offered and it’s bad for golf in the Far East.
When the PGA Tour muscled its way into the Asian Tour’s CIMB Classic in late 2010, the die was cast, a signal was sent from the weak to the strong that the rule of the jungle, survival of the fittest was the name of the game.
And now the avaricious PGA Tour and its older brother, the Champions Tour have bulldozed their way into Korea and Japan respectively, whilst the PGA Tour - China Series is even boasting of its own expansionist tendencies with a three-year-agreement to stage the first PGA Tour China Series outside the PRC mainland, in Hong Kong in early November.
But, despite the Asian Tour, the Japan Tour, the KPGA Korean Tour and the China Golf Association all being members of the International Federation of PGA Tours (IFPGAT), an organization in which all members are - in theory at least - equal and which exists to protect the collective and individual interests of its member Tours, it seems powerless - or unwilling - to reinin what is the golfing neocolonialism of the PGA Tour.
At least with the CIMB Classic, which again provides a convenient and highly-profitable stopover for PGA Tour professionals en route to the WGC HSBC Champions in Shanghai in late October, was given a fig-leaf of respectability with the Asian Tour given co-sanctioning status and 10 of the 78 places available in a US$7m tournament with no halfway cut, meaning everyone is assured of a pay-day.
But, as the USA has found to its cost in more serious overseas incursions - those of the military variety - even the very best of intentions have ultimately and inevitably led to ‘Mission creep,’ and it’s no different in sport.
Taking advantage of the foundations laid by a legitimate and authentic Asian Tour event, the US$750,000 CJ Invitational Hosted by KJ Choi over four years, coercing an ambitious - and someone else’s - sponsor prepared to trade up big, the PGA Tour made its move, announcing the CJ CUP @
NINE BRIDGES, all on its own, no place for the Asian or KPGA Korean Tours, a 78man field and an eye-watering prize fund on US$9.25m.
Another fabulously-profitable pay-day for those PGA Tour pros as they make their way east along the modern-day Silk Road, less than a month after competing for US$50m in the four FedEx Cup final events and bonus pool.
Except that, if the CIMB Classic is anything to go by, PGA Tour big-hitters tend not to turn-up; to date no more than two of the OWGR top-10 each year have played in KL, the roll of honour unfortunately deprived of an Asian winner thus far - singularly uninspiring, not a single household name or global star taking the US$1m-plus first prize.
Such is the imbalance of power that the Asian Tour, which operated a schedule based on the calendar year is prohibited by the PGA Tour from listing the CIMB Classic until the US organization is ready to announce it’s 2017-2018 schedule, which runs from October to September.
The PGA Tour, “Respectfully declined,” the opportunity to answer a number of key questions such as, ‘Was the host member of the IFPGAT, the Asian Tour or the KPGA Korean Tour, consulted over this initiative, and if so, in what manner, at what stage and what was the Asian Tour’s reaction to the proposal?’
Josh Burack, CEO of the Asian Tour said diplomatically, “We have expressed our disappointment to the PGA Tour for the noninvolvement of the Asian Tour and Korean PGA and hope to find an amicable solution in due course,” whilst a spokesman for the KPGA Korean Tour said his organization, which has over 6,000 members, Tour players and teaching professionals, was, “Extremely disappointed because [the] PGA Tour did not make an approach to the local PGA in first place, adding, “We have not been consulted by the PGA Tour.”
But a senior Asian Tour player who did not wish to be named was even more forthright than his CEO, commented, “The PGA Tour is all-powerful and seems to believe it can stage events anywhere in the world, without any regard for the home circuit and its members,” adding, “They are not only depriving Asian Tour members of playing opportunities and earning potential, but this also diverts sponsorship income and media exposure away from Asian Tour events.”
The organization supposedly established to represent the interests of its members, the International Federation of PGA Tours (IFPGAT) is seemingly unwilling to carry out its responsibilities on behalf of member organisations, the Asian Tour and the KPGA Asian Tour, clearly implying that all its members are equal, but one - the PGA Tour is more equal than the others.
This article will continue in the next issue.
Taking advantage of the US$750,000 CJ Invitational Hosted by KJ Choi over four years and someone else’s sponsor, the PGA Tour announced the CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES would have no place for the Asian or KPGA Korean Tours, a 78-man field and an eye-watering...
Josh Burack, CEO of the Asian Tour expressed his disappointment diplomatically to the PGA Tour for the noninvolvement of the Asian Tour and Korean PGA