Categorized | 2014, May 2014, News, On Tour

Asian Tour: The Player’s Tour, celebrating 10 years of excellence

By: Simon Reynolds

Kiradech Aphibarnarat, winner of the 2013 Maybank Malaysian Open and the 2013 Order of Merit Champion (photo courtesy of the Asian Tour)

Kiradech Aphibarnarat, winner of the 2013 Maybank Malaysian Open and the 2013 Order of Merit Champion (photo courtesy of the Asian Tour)

Golf Indonesia sits down with Mike Kerr the CEO of the Asian Tour:

Asian Tour: The Player’s Tour, what exactly does this imply at an organizational level?
The tour itself like all other major tours: The PGA, European, South Africa… are player owned organizations. We have a tournament player committee who work alongside the management and the management work on behalf of the players. The management’s role is to increase playing opportunities, through the development of existing events as well as by creating new events. We are not a profit organization, and everything is put back for the players.

For the regions top up and coming professional golfers what would be the attraction towards focussing on obtaining an Asian tour card rather than an OneAsia card for a season?
Asian Tour has a clear career pathway for all aspiring professional golfers. The first step on that pathway is the Asian Development Tour, similar to the Challenge Tour in Europe and the Web.com tour in the USA. It offers developing players who have not quite reached the level of the big tours to play a series of tournaments over the course of the year, and the Top 3 players gain their Asian Tour cards for the followings season. Nicholas Fung is the perfect example of a player who has benefitted from the ADT, he won the 2013 Order of Merit gaining his Asian Tour card for 2014. Through playing in ADT events and Asian Tour events he has gained enough world ranking points to become the highest ranked Malaysian golfer in the world. Therefore he was selected for the Eurasia Cup team last month. Here is playing fantastic golf in 2014 and a player with a bright future. Asian Tour events gather more world ranking points then OneAsia events. At the beginning of 2013 Nicholas Fung was ranked about 1400th in the OWGR, through playing in the ADT regularly and in selected Asian Tour through invitations by the years end, he had entered the Top 250 in the OWGR. The Asian Tour is structured through career pathway and global golf. Through the ADT, through the Asian Tour, World Golf Championships, European Tour, PGA Tour, it opens up a whole career prospect. Getting into the Top 200 as a player is incredibly important because that opens up other events all over the world.

Thongchai Jaidee – receiving the illustrious Player of the Decade award at the Asian Tour Player Awards in Jakarta prior to the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters: for his performances, success and his dedication to the Asian Tour since 2004 (photo courtesy of the Asian Tour)

Thongchai Jaidee – receiving the illustrious Player of the Decade award at the Asian Tour Player Awards in Jakarta prior to the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters: for his performances, success and his dedication to the Asian Tour since 2004 (photo courtesy of the Asian Tour)

How has the level of competition improved over the years, with the influx of foreign players from the United States, Australia and Europe, is this an advantage or a disadvantage for local players looking to get their own place to play on the Tour?
Yes it has, ultimately we will have the best players from this part of the world competing on the Asian Tour. All of Asia’s top players like K J Choi, Y E Yang all played on the Asian Tour at some point in their careers. With the influx of foreign players coming to Asian to develop their games and golf careers, this has created a healthy balance of competition and has resulted in a higher level of competition and a more exciting tour for the fans. Having foreign players competing on the Asian Tour can only be seen as an advantage after all it can only inspire the Asian golfers to play even better. In some of the co-sanctioned events with the larger tours like the CIMB Classic (PGA) in Malaysia it is an opportunity for the younger Asian players to play alongside some of the very best golfers in the world.

Being based in Indonesia, why do you think Indonesia has yet to produce a large number of top performing golfing professionals on the Asian professional circuit? While neighbours Thailand have been producing top performing golfers for many years.
If you want to produce talent, it is about getting youngsters inspired, Thailand have had Boonchu Ruangkit, Thongchai Jaidee, Thaworn Whiratchant over the last 20 years. Ruangkit is a legend, and at over 50 years age is still competing and playing well in events. Thongchai Jaidee is a multiple winner of the Asian Tour Order of Merit. Thaworn Whiratchant is the all time leading winner on the Asian Tour with 16 titles.  Indonesia needs their very own golfing hero, to spark the interest of the younger generations. Asian Tour is determined to help support the local golf tour here in Indonesia, and with the likes of the ADT with two scheduled events here in Indonesia in 2014, the local players should look here alongside the Asian Tour showcase local events: The Indonesian Open and the Indonesian Masters for an opportunity to learn and play with the regions very best. By supporting the Indonesian local tour through these events we hope to help nurture more home grown talent here in Indonesia.

The Eurasia Cup was an exciting event, what was the inspiration towards creating this event?
The Asian Tour and The European Tour have been working together since 1999 with The Malaysian Open. The Eurasia Cup idea was always something that has been planned. It was a long process finding the right venue. The right sponsors the right domestic market, which in this case was Malaysia. We were very fortunate to have very strong support from the Malaysian government in making the event possible, and they will continue there support and host the next two events in 2016 and 2018. After the success of the inaugural event and the final day drama we are excited and look forward to many more thrilling Eurasia Cups in the future.

About Simon Reynolds

Simon fell in love with the game of golf at an early age. Watching Happy Gilmore when he was 12, Simon was hooked, and to this day thanks Adam Sandler's genius in the film for his passion for the game. His golfing hero is more refined and mature these days, and he continues his spiritual quest to model his golf game on Ben Hogan's perfect golf swing.

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