Golf: Asian Tour boss exit prompted by players' merger fears

Asian Tour chief executive Mike Kerr. PHOTO: ASIAN TOUR

The proposed creation of a mega golf tour straddling Europe and Asia has been thrown into doubt, following the departure of a key official and continued resistance from Asian golfers.

The Straits Times has learnt that Asian Tour chief executive Mike Kerr has resigned in the past fortnight after coming under fire from some players for the way he has handled negotiations with the European Tour.

The Irishman had said last month that players' fears that the merger would limit playing opportunities for Asian professionals had been addressed.

Sources, however, said that behind the scenes, Kerr faced stiff opposition from many of the Asian Tour players, particularly the vocal Thai contingent.

"We were not kept informed by Mike Kerr during his discussions with the European Tour - the merger was thrown into our laps at the final stage, and we had little chance to give real input," said one veteran Asian Tour player, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Kerr, 44, who ran the Asian Tour headquarters in Singapore, took on the post in March 2012 after a 12-year stint at broadcaster ESPN Star Sports.

The Asian Tour did not respond to The Straits Times' queries by press time.

Led by Thai star Thongchai Jaidee, the players held their own closed-door meeting at the Macau Open last month. However, they have yet to hold a vote on whether to support the merger.

"The main thing for me is that Asian players have a chance to improve in the future," world No. 28 Thongchai said after the meeting.

"We are waiting still for our concerns to be addressed."

Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday, Singapore golfer Quincy Quek said the Asian Tour players "want guarantees so as to not be on the losing end of this deal".

However, the 28-year-old, who has progressed from the Asian Development Tour to compete on the senior Asian Tour, is still in favour of a tie-up with their European counterparts.

He explained: "It's exciting because this will potentially open up an alternative path to the bigger events.

"Looking at the schedule this year, with some events being cancelled or postponed indefinitely, it hasn't been great.

"So I'm hoping this merger will create a more stable schedule for the players."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline Golf: Asian Tour boss exit prompted by players' merger fears. Subscribe