New EurAsia Cup to challenge existing OneAsia event
New Ryder Cup-style tournament, backed by the Asian Tour, will challenge Royal Trophy, which is backed by the rival OneAsia Tour
A new Ryder Cup-style tournament featuring the best players in Europe and Asia was launched yesterday, but is bound to antagonise Chinese officials who back a similar event.
The EurAsia Cup, a biennial team competition in Malaysia starting next March 28-30, will be in direct conflict with the established Royal Trophy, which will be played in Guangzhou for the first time in December.
The announcement of the new event by the Asian Tour and its partner, the European Tour, will spark another round in the turf war for golf in the region as the Royal Trophy is co-sanctioned by rival OneAsia, which is backed by the China Golf Association. "China will see this as a confrontational move," said one insider, as the Asian Tour is persona non grata on the mainland after relations between the two broke down many years ago.
The EurAsia Cup will pit 10 golfers from each region against each other in a three-day matchplay format, while the Seve Ballesteros-inspired Royal Trophy has eight players from the same two regions also played over three days, featuring fourballs, foursomes and singles - like the Ryder Cup.
The seventh edition of the Royal Trophy will be held at Dragon Lake Golf Club in Guangzhou from December 20-22, with Yang Yong-eun leading the Asia team and Ryder Cup-winning captain Jose Maria Olazabal heading the Europe team. Asia has also signed up China's most accomplished players, Zhang Lianwei and Liang Wenchong, along with Japan's budding superstar Hideki Matsuyama. The trophy was previously held in Thailand, with the sixth edition in Brunei.
Lincoln Venancio, comanaging director of the Royal Trophy, said yesterday his event would only get bigger now they had moved into the mainland market. "The history of the Royal Trophy will prevail," said Venancio as he questioned the timing of the EurAsia Cup, just two weeks before the Masters at Augusta.
"This will be by far the biggest in the seven-year history of the Royal Trophy and China is committed to host it for the next two editions. This is a step up.
"The China Golf Association is really supportive of the event, and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation is 200 per cent behind it, along with OneAsia."
The EurAsia Cup, sponsored by Malaysian conglomerate DRB-HICOM and to be played at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club near Kuala Lumpur, will comprise the top four available players from the final 2013 Asian Tour order of merit, the leading three available players based on world rankings and three captain's picks.
Europe will feature the top four available players from the final 2013 Race to Dubai rankings, the four highest-ranked available players and two captain's picks. Players on the winning team will each pocket US$300,000, while the runners-up will each receive US$100,000.
Asian Tour chairman Kyi Hla Han said: "The EurAsia Cup ... will be a fantastic event showcasing world-class golf at the highest standard as matchplay competitions always bring out great excitement and drama."
Charlie Tingey, director of Eur-Asia Golf, an entity formed by the two tours to launch the competition, brushed off concerns it could struggle to attract the stars due to it being so close to the Masters. "This is a tournament run by the tours. There is no perfect date. We do expect the full support of the players," Tingey said.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse