'No Asian golfer will lose out' in merger

SHANGHAI • Asian Tour chief executive officer Mike Kerr has allayed players' fears that they could lose out following a merger with the European Tour, adding that the initiative is aimed at nurturing "elite golfers" to drive the sport in the region.

He said yesterday that the proposed creation of a mega-tour straddling Europe and Asia would go ahead.

It had been broadly welcomed by players, despite fears from some Asian professionals that it could limit their playing opportunities.

He added that it would create a pathway to the world's most prestigious events for players from Asia and, in the process, create more elite players from the world's most populous continent.

"What I can say very confidently is that no Asian professional is going to lose any opportunity," Kerr said on the sidelines of the HSBC Golf Business Forum in Shanghai.

"We are going through a process of education with the players.

"The European players have embraced this almost 100 per cent. For the Asian players, it's a much bigger change.

"There have been a lot of questions and a lot of concern.

"Change in any industry, in life, is not something that is easily embraced. We have addressed their fears in the way we have structured the partnership."

Kerr did not disclose details of the merger. "Yes it's all confidential," he said. "But we are going to partner together. We are merging the membership, the businesses.

"Asian players will continue to be able to ply their trade in Asia if they wish. But for those who want to progress, those that want to create a real career out of professional golf, what we have done is create a very clear pathway to get into some of the more established events in the world and then through to the Majors, the WGCs (World Golf Championships) and the cream of the elite tournaments.

"From an Asian Tour perspective, we want to create elite golfers in Asia to drive golf and unlock the potential of the game in Asia."

Kerr said the merger will ensure long-term stability at the top level after a long period when golf's governance has been fractured in Asia, with rival tour OneAsia competing for sponsorship and some events disappearing from the calendar.

"It will create scale. It will create a new product. And it will create stability," he said. "I don't think that we would have embarked on this had we not believed that actually it would satisfy our core purpose, to deliver more earnings and more opportunities for all our members."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2015, with the headline ''No Asian golfer will lose out' in merger'. Print Edition | Subscribe