Euro-Asia merger will bring stability, says Kerr

HONG KONG • Asian Tour chief executive officer Mike Kerr believes the merger of two of the world's major golf tours will see the largest shake-up of the professional game since the European Tour was created more than 40 years ago.

The European and Asian Tours declared last week that they intend to combine their playing memberships and business dealings into a mega-Tour that will stretch from the Atlantic coast of Ireland to the shores of the Pacific in East Asia.

"I can't think of anything bigger," Kerr said in a phone interview, when asked whether it was golf's most important development since the European Tour's creation in 1972.

He said details of the new Tour could be announced very soon as talks to hammer out the finer points are at an advanced stage.

He said discussions were "confidential" but did confirm that there would in future be just one Tour with a single membership comprising the current players on the European and Asian Tours.

"This will involve the merger of the memberships and the merger of the business," he said. "You can make that leap, yes, to say there will be a single membership.

"It will be based on merit and the Asian Tour members will effectively get access to the entire schedule of tournaments that would be included in any future Tour."

Kerr says ultimately the Tours are there to benefit their members - the players - and the merger will ensure long-term stability in a sport which has seen some events disappear from the calendar in recent years.

"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 of our members," he said.

He said that the announcement had been well received within the game and it now was a case of talking to the players and ensuring they understood the plan and were comfortable with it.

"We are now starting that process on both sides. Everything that I have heard, either through the media, through partners, sponsors or from players has been very positive.

"Quite honestly, there has been no negativity whatsoever."

Kerr would not be drawn on whether this would mean the end of their struggling rival, the OneAsia Tour, which has staged just six tournaments so far this year.

"You will have to ask them," he said, but added the merger would start to mend Asia's "fractured" professional golf scene.

"One of the things that has retarded the growth of golf in Asia has been the fractured nature of it," he said.

"If you look at the map of the world, to the left you've got the Americas dominated by the PGA Tour. In the middle you've got the European Tour. But if you look to the right, it's a whole mish-mash of everybody involved. So when we talk about consolidating, it's not about making things smaller, it's about making things clearer.

"It's about the long term. It's about sustainability. It's about scale. And that's what we will achieve - long-term stability. It's a fantastic opportunity."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2015, with the headline 'Euro-Asia merger will bring stability, says Kerr'. Print Edition | Subscribe