Super Series tries to muscle in on Asian Tour

The battle lines have been drawn in Asian golf and it appears to be four against one.

In one corner there is a the “Super Series” coalition, making up of the professional golf tours of China, Japan, Australia and Korea.

On the other side is the Asian Tour, the official governors of the game in Asia and the body that runs the main professional circuit of more than 30 tournaments.

The Super Series folks have signed a memorandum of understanding to form an elite competition for the region’s top golfers, without sanction from the Asian Tour.

It is, in effect, a rival tour and the fact that it has representatives from China and Korea, who are members of the Asian Tour, gives it a measure of viability.

The Asian Tour claimed that talks were held last year with the rival body, led by the Australians. However, at some point the Asian Tour were abruptly ignored and the rivals went ahead and planned their own circuit.

The series is to be launched this year with six events and will continue in 2010.

Max Garske, the chief executive of the PGA of Australia, said Friday’s announcement was just the first major step in a long-term plan to establish an even bigger Asian tour. He said:

“The Asia Pacific region needs to collectively be the master of the destiny of professional tournament golf in this region. The formation of a consolidated Asia-Pacific tournament series is the first exciting stage of this process. This will go a long way to developing a strong pathway for players of this region.”

It sounds all very good and encouraging. Except for the fact that the Asian Tour says its circuit has already established a strong pathway for players.

Indeed, the new circuit will need to deliver. It has planned three tournaments in China, one in Korea and two in Australia. Many see it merely as an excuse for the Australians to have a decent tour to play on, given the rapidly weakening Australasian Tour.

And in a climate of difficult economic conditions, it will be interesting to see if sponsors are willing to support such a tour, especially if Asian players refuse to lend their support.

For any new circuit to succeed, it must have the ear of the players. The Asian Tour, for all its faults and weaknesses, is a players’ tour and enjoys strong co-sanctioning rights with the European Tour on a number of events.

And unless the players themselves snub what their own hands have built, the Aussies may find it tough.

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