Bunker Men­tal­ity

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

HK Golfer - - Contents - By Mike Wil­son

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

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