Golf: European Tour subsidises late switch, Asia not as generous

Defending champion Brett Rumford of Australia hitting a shot during the Pro Am competition of the China Open at the Genzon Golf Club in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, on April 23, 2014. The European Tour has picked up any costs its members in
Defending champion Brett Rumford of Australia hitting a shot during the Pro Am competition of the China Open at the Genzon Golf Club in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, on April 23, 2014. The European Tour has picked up any costs its members incurred after the late decision to move this week's tournament from South Korea to Singapore but Asian Tour golfers at the co-sanctioned event have not been offered similar reimbursements. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - The European Tour has picked up any costs its members incurred after the late decision to move this week's tournament from South Korea to Singapore but Asian Tour golfers at the co-sanctioned event have not been offered similar reimbursements.

Earlier this month, the two circuits announced that The Championship was being relocated owing to "staging issues" after its original sponsor withdrew, meaning flight bookings required changing and hotels switched to compete at Laguna National.

The European Tour sent a directive to its members on how to reclaim expenses for the extra costs incurred following the unforeseen change of circumstances.

The Asian Tour, however, was not able to match the offer to their 72 players in the 156-man field for this week's US$1.5 million (S$1.9 million) event, formally known as the Ballantine's Championship, where prize money is down from last year's US$2.8 million purse.

Asian Tour chairman Kyi Hla Han was not available for comment after playing in the pro-am on Wednesday, while the Tour's CEO Mike Kerr, away on business in Abu Dhabi, also opted against discussing the issue.

The Asian Tour's order of merit leader Anirban Lahiri said changing flights and bookings were part and parcel of being a golfer and he laid no blame at the door of the organisers but the Indian did praise the European Tour's policy.

"Everyone is trying to be economical by booking in time but these things can happen if you pull out of events or miss cuts, you change tickets," the Indian told Reuters on Wednesday. "It is something that is the prerogative of the Tour, if the European Tour has taken that decision its really good on the Tour to support their players and hopefully something like this can be learnt by the other tours."

Late scheduling switches are par for the course for Asian Tour members with the 2014 Myanmar Open disappearing from the list of events without notice, while the return of next month's Philippine Open was only announced last Friday.

Asian Tour members are still waiting for the second half of their 2014 schedule to be announced with the Chiangmai Golf Classic held in Thailand in July their last confirmed event of the year to date.

Singapore's Mardam Marmat said the switch of venues for this week's event had led to mixed feelings.

"I had already got my flights and done my visa," the world No. 548, who has won US$4,025 from four events this year, told reporters. "It is good and bad for me... bad I lose some money on the air ticket and good I now play in my home town."

European Tour member Brett Rumford, winner of the event last year in Korea, said the late switch had not caused him too much trouble.

"I didn't book any accommodation or flights to Korea so I got lucky on that," the Australian told reporters after revealing he nearly missed last week's China Open because he had run out of pages in his passport and required a new one.

"The Tour is always subsidising any money lost so we have been looked after."

Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, who won the tournament in 2012, said he was grateful to organisers for managing to put an event on this week after the scheduling difficulties. "We are fortunate to have the tournament from what I've heard. We lost the tournament at Blackstone, which was a shame for me as I'd played well there for two years," he said.

"But it is great to be here in Singapore and we have to pay a great deal of credit to everyone for setting up a tournament like this in such a short period of time."