Golf: No merger but Asian, European Tour tie-up means more joint tournaments

(REUTERS) - The Asian Tour and the European Tour announced a "strategic alliance" on Monday that could pave the way for more co-sanctioned golf tournaments being held in Asia.

The alliance follows a period of negotiations, which began last August, between the two circuits who will now both be invested in expanding playing opportunities in Asia and the rest of the globe.

The two tours will have a new joint office in Singapore but will retain their own separate identity in terms of brand and logo, and will be managed by their own individual boards, both organisations said in a statement.

"Following successful discussions over the past year to develop our joint vision, we are delighted to announce this 'Strategic Alliance'," Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour said.

"We have enjoyed a very strong and prosperous relationship with the Asian Tour over the past 17 years, and this formalises that partnership, representing an exciting new era in our association."

The Malaysian Open in 1999 was the first co-sanctioned tour between the two organisations, which have since conducted 95 such tournaments.

Talks on the expected union appeared to be in trouble in December when Asian Tour chief executive Mike Kerr resigned for unspecified reasons following player concerns about limited opportunities on the combined circuit.

Last year's Asian Tour featured only 12 stand-alone events with many more co-sanctioned with larger circuits such as the European, US PGA and Japan Tours who all boast fuller schedules and bigger prize money.

"This is a very positive step forward in our desire to further grow professional golf in Asia and around the world," Kyi Hla Han, commissioner of the Asian Tour said.

"We are also confident a greater collaboration between the Asian Tour and European Tour will deliver a stronger product to our partners and appeal to new sponsors to get involved with the game.

"The future looks very exciting for the Asian Tour and European Tour."