Asian Tour golfers still in two minds over tie-up

SHANGHAI • Asian Tour members are yet to give the green light to the proposed merger with the European Tour and will conduct further meetings, senior golfers revealed yesterday.

Asian Tour chief executive officer Mike Kerr said last week that the players' fears had been addressed and concerns largely allayed. "We are going to partner together. We are merging the membership. We are merging the businesses," he added.

But two of Asia's leading players, though broadly in favour, said it was not a done deal yet and players needed more details before they could vote.

Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee said golfers held a meeting at the Macau Open last month after the proposed creation of a mega-tour straddling Europe and Asia.

"The main thing for me is that Asian players have a chance to improve in the future," the world No. 32 said during practice for today's BMW Masters opening round at Lake Malaren in Shanghai.

"For me, it's fine.

"Yes, there was a meeting at the Macau Open of the players where we had a lot of talking.

"A lot of people are thinking different things, that's why we have to take more time and get more information. The players haven't voted on it yet."

World No. 40 Kiradech Aphibarnrat said the players had been split at the Macau meeting but were now slowly coming round to accepting the deal.

"In Macau, the players didn't know the information about (the merger) so I can say 50 per cent of the Asian players on the Tour were a little bit against," he said, while confirming that Kerr did address some of the issues.

"Finally, when we were told what (the Asian Tour) were going to do, we believed it."

However, Thongchai said players would still need more convincing. "We are waiting still for our concerns to be addressed," said the 45-year-old, one of the elder statesmen of the Asian and European Tours.

"We are still waiting for the next meeting to confirm or not. There will be one more meeting, maybe in Thailand (next month) before we make our decision."

Kiradech said so long as opportunities existed for young Asian players, he would be in favour.

"I started from the Asian Tour, from small events I played full field, then I won co-sanctioned events and got to where I am.

"If (the merger) happens and all the kids can continue to play on the tour, then I think it's the right way to make young stars."

Some players have been reported as being unhappy with the way that Kerr has negotiated with the European Tour.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2015, with the headline 'Asian Tour golfers still in two minds over tie-up'. Print Edition | Subscribe