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What is the outlook for OneAsia in 2010?
A: 2010 is looking to be a breakout year, one which is already exceeding our expectations. We've confirmed 11 events, all at over US$1 million, and this growth will continue with several significant announcements expected in the following months. Looking towards 2011, we hope to expand the tour to 17 to 20 tournaments, all at over US$1 million. And in the longer term, this may expand to 25 to 30 tournaments in a season.
Q: What were your goals when you launched in 2009, and how will you achieve them?
A: Our vision has always been to create an elite tournament platform and centralised pathway for professionals which the leading players from all the different regional tours could feed into. The purpose is to provide a regional alternative to the European Tour and PGA Tour right here in Asia-Pacific, so we retain the best talent and not force players to take their career to the US or Europe. Creating an elite platform which can stand legitimately beside the PGA Tour/European Tour is the ultimate goal, and we not only continue to grow and develop additional high-level opportunities for leading golfers, but are constantly engaging more golf administrations and tours from across Asia to increase the representative scope of our pathway.
Q: Does Asia have room for two governing bodies (with the Asian Tour)?
A: Across the Asia-Pacific region there are several established, successful tours that have contributed, and continue to contribute, to the development of our leading golfers - this includes the Japan Golf Tour, the Asian Tour, the Korean Golf Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia, the China Golf Tour, the Professional Golf Tour of India, the Asean Tour - the list goes on. There are already several very important governing bodies operating in the region and this list does not include the European Tour, which until now has been responsible for some of Asia's biggest events. Along with the Asian Tour, each of the existing tours in the region remain absolutely critical to the development of golf and in identifying the region's next champions. OneAsia does not intend to compete with, compromise or conflict with the operation of any of these tours. Something that has been missed in the debate is that OneAsia is not seeking to recreate what is already there.
OneAsia is not about competing for sponsors of US$300,000 or US$500,000 events, but attempting to build a platform where events are commensurate with the biggest in the world. Our initial benchmark is a minimum of US$1 million prize money per event, but this is intended to grow quickly over the coming years.
Q: Do both tours have the interest of golf at heart, or is this power struggle all about making money?
A: You will struggle to find anyone who would disagree that this region deserves its own elite platform - one that can move forward in the same time zone and that works collectively without the need for co-sanctioning or half-fields, and without competing for the same sponsors.
This sentiment is at the heart of everything we do in terms of truly generating the best opportunities for golfers, and developing golf in the region. OneAsia is a not-for-profit entity and this motive drives all our internal decisions and strategy.
Q: Is OneAsia just a lifeline for the Australian PGA which is trying to get on board the Asian gravy train?
A: The so-called demise of Australian tournament golf is propagated by many who misunderstand the marketplace. The Australian GDP is approximately the size of the Netherlands with a similar population. Yet, in 2009 it still managed to sustain five events at more than US$1 million, while the Netherlands - an established golf market - staged one tournament at that level. This illustrates that for many years Australia has staged far more elite tournaments than its marketplace can justify and continues to box far above its weight. There is no doubt that joining OneAsia will provide the opportunity for elite Australian tournaments to flourish and grow further, but the larger benefit would be for its best players to gain access directly to the biggest events in the region, maximising their opportunities and eventually retaining their talent. It is this benefit that applies equally to all the tours across the region.
Q: Will the power struggle be to the detriment of Asian golf?
A: Looking purely at the facts, the advent of OneAsia has seen the development of four brand new US$1 million tournaments, two further existing events doubling their prize money to US$1 million, and most importantly it has also seen the addition of several new smaller events on tours across the region - including the Asian Tour.
This supports the notion we are seeking to work in a complementary fashion alongside other tours and that OneAsia is certainly positioning itself at a higher level, and speaking to sponsors regarding a very different product than what exists.
Q: Is it fair putting the onus on the players to decide where they want to play - and risk being banned by the Asian Tour?
A: I think it is extremely unfair and goes directly against the core reason all tours exist - to maximise the opportunities of our players. They should have the freedom to see the potential of their own careers - and for any tour to unreasonably restrict their players' opportunities is absolutely unjustifiable and wrong.
OneAsia does not require any player to choose one over the other. We would encourage players to play in as many tournaments, on as many tours as possible, and would obviously welcome any player looking to complement their existing schedule with OneAsia tournaments and maximising their access to good prize money.
Q: The Asian Tour believes OneAsia is playing the role of a scavenger and robbing from its own tour. How do you see it?
Q: How big is the effect of China aligning itself with OneAsia?
A: It goes without saying China is an exceptionally important commercial marketplace with amazing growth opportunities. The unparalleled and unwavering support we have received from the China Golf Association and the vision they have shown has allowed us to expand our elite tournament platform in that market. It has also provided a huge boost to OneAsia and a key point of differentiation from other tours in the region. Our partnership with the CGA, a founding partner of OneAsia, will be the basis for significant further growth in elite tournament golf in China.
Q: Do you think the Japan Tour will follow suit and back OneAsia soon?
A: The JGTO were an original partner to regional golf consolidation discussions several years ago, along with the Asian Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia.
In 2008, we signed a MOU committing to the principles of working together for a greater good. As we move into 2010 these discussions will continue.