Asian bodies press Finchem for expansion plans

photo

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem

SINGAPORE – Tim Finchem will be a man in demand next week. During his visit to St. Andrews for the 150th anniversary Open Championship, the U.S. PGA Tour commissioner will be asked to reveal his intentions for Asian expansion.

In response to Finchem’s latest comments about the possibility of launching a late-season Far East swing, senior officials from the Asian Tour and OneAsia Tour said they will seek clarification from him.

The PGA Tour is involved with two events in Asia – the World Golf Championships HSBC Champions in Shanghai (Nov. 4-7) and the limited-field CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia (Oct. 28-31), which is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour.

Finchem was quoted July 6 by The Associated Press, saying “We’re looking at possibilities in Japan, Korea, China. I’m not saying we will, but we may very well do a short series over there in the fall in the next two or three years.

“If we’re going to get serious about a presence in Asia, it would probably argue for a short series.”

It’s unclear at this stage what impact a stronger PGA Tour presence in Asia would have on either Asian Tour or OneAsia Tour, which continue to battle for supremacy in the region.

Kyi Hla Han, executive chairman of the Asian Tour, said: “All I can say is that the PGA Tour has indicated it’s looking at events in China, Korea and Japan.”

He added that he will meet with Finchem in Scotland when the International Federation of PGA Tours gets together to discuss matters related to the professional game globally.

Although the Asian Tour is co-sanctioning October’s inaugural US$6 million CIMB Asia Pacific Classic with the PGA Tour, it is an “unofficial” event with a limited field.

Several Asian Tour members are believed to have expressed their disappointment that only 10 spots in the 40-man field have been allocated to their tour and are eager to learn the PGA Tour’s plans for the tournament in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, Ben Sellenger, chief executive of OneAsia, said he and Sang Chun, the tour’s chairman and commissioner, were hoping to talk with Finchem in Scotland.

“We’d be happy to talk with the PGA Tour about their plans for Asia,” Sellenger said. “The PGA Tour is the dominant tour in the world and has a lot to offer Asia. If it’s done in the right way, it could be very positive for the region.”

The China Golf Association, Korea Golf Tour, Korea Golf Association and PGA of Australia comprise OneAsia.

The PGA Tour already has strong ties with the CGA. After a trip to China last year, Finchem intimated that the Presidents Cup might be played there in 2019. Meanwhile, the Champions Tour is set to make its Asian debut with the US$3 million Songdo Championship Korea on Sept.10-12.

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