Asian Tour 2011: Record purse, OneAsia clashes

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The Asian Tour will travel as far as Switzerland in 2011.

The tour announced a provisional 25-tournament schedule Tuesday and could be further boosted in the coming weeks as final negotiations with sponsors come to fruition.

The release of the Asian Tour lineup comes a matter of weeks after the OneAsia Tour unveiled its own provisional 13-event schedule for next year. There are at least two date clashes that could lead to more fines for Asian Tour members who opt for OneAsia events.

While OneAsia stages the Maekyung Open on May 5-8, the Asian Tour hosts the Philippine Open. Also, the King’s Cup of the Asian Tour goes up against the new, season-ending OneAsia Championship (Dec. 8-11). OneAsia’s tentative schedule lacks some specific dates in October and November; if those are filled, they’ll likely pose more conflicts with the Asian Tour.

The Asian Tour said next year’s projected total prize fund in excess of US$45 million is the highest in tour history.

Of that total, US$19 million is offered at three limited-field events: the US$7 million WGC-HSBC Champions, the US$6 million CIMB Asia Pacific Classic and the US$6 million Omega Mission Hills World Cup.

Seven events are co-sanctioned with the European Tour: Avantha Masters, Maybank Malaysian Open, Ballantine’s Championship, Omega European Masters, Barclays Singapore Open, Iskandar Johor Open and UBS Hong Kong Open.

IMG Media and the Asian Tour recently announced a 12-year deal that creates a joint-venture production company designed to enhance the circuit’s TV business worldwide.

“Our new global television platform, which takes the Asian Tour to major markets across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Australia via broadcasters such as Sky Sports, CCTV, Fox Sports and Viasat has broadened the unique appeal of the Asian Tour and will continue to provide the thrust for growth,” said Kyi Hla Han, executive chairman of the Asian Tour.

The Asian Tour begins the year with Qualifying School (Jan. 13-16) in Thailand. The top-40 finishers at the final stage (Jan. 20-23) earn tour cards.

This year’s Q-School graduates Rikard Karlberg of Sweden, Peter Karmis of South Africa and former graduates Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh and Pariya Junhasavasdikul of Thailand won titles in 2010.

The first full tournament will be held Feb. 10-13 at the Myanmar Open in Yangon.

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