Asian golf war set to spoil fun for fans again
Thailand Open to run alongside Avantha Masters as OneAsia battles Asian Tour
Asia's "golf war" makes an unwanted return this week when the OneAsia season starts with the Thailand Open - in direct competition with another big event on the rival Asian Tour.
While a strong field has been lined up for the Bangkok tournament, attention will inevitably be shared with the Avantha Masters near New Delhi, co-sanctioned by the European Tour and headlined by Colin Montgomerie.
The clash follows a landmark court judgment in Singapore in November that found the Asian Tour had illegally barred four of its players from OneAsia events.
OneAsia is expected to hold about 12 events this season. It is seen by the longer-standing Asian Tour, which organised more than 20 tournaments last year, as a direct challenge.
The Thailand Open features local favourite Thaworn Wiratchant and a strong Japanese contingent led by Shingo Katayama, after OneAsia entered a partnership with the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).
"It's wonderful to see so many great players from the JGTO in the field this week. Their presence certainly raises the bar for our OneAsia stars," commissioner Sang Chun said. "We are working hard to bring more tournaments on board and offer our players greater opportunities."
Meanwhile, Montgomerie, plus fellow Ryder Cup players including Edoardo Molinari and David Howell, along with a host of Indian stars, are the main attractions at the US$2.3 million Avantha Masters, which also starts today.
According to Asian Golf Monthly managing editor Spencer Robinson: "Asia is bracing itself for the first of what will inevitably be a number of absurd and harmful date clashes between high-profile tournaments."