European Tour chief rejects calls to back Royal Trophy
CEO George O'Grady throws his weight behind the rival matchplay EurAsia Cup, citing 'fundamental differences of policy with promoters'
European Tour chief executive George O'Grady has rebuffed calls to back the Royal Trophy team event, citing "fundamental differences of policy with the promoters".
The European Tour has launched a rival matchplay tournament between the players of Europe and Asia, despite the established "Ryder Cup-style" Royal Trophy having recently concluded its seventh edition.
In the wake of Europe's dramatic victory over Asia at Guangzhou's Dragon Lake Golf Club last weekend, triumphant captain Jose Maria Olazabal called on the European Tour to sanction the annual matchplay event that was founded by the late Seve Ballesteros.
O'Grady reiterated his commitment to the EurAsia Cup, which will be co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour and inaugurated in Kuala Lumpur from March 27-29.
"Our relations with players from Malaysia, China, India, Thailand, Korea and Japan have been important to us for many years," O'Grady said.
The Royal Trophy is backed by the Japan Golf Tour, the China Golf Association and the OneAsia Tour, which has a bitter rivalry with the Asian Tour.
"We see the development of the EurAsia Cup as a further commitment by us to assist in the development of golf throughout the region and to strengthening one of the European Tour's most important partnerships," added O'Grady.
"The EurAsia Cup is officially sanctioned by the European Tour and the Asian Tour, both of whom are full members of the International Federation of PGA Tours. While we sanctioned the Royal Trophy for the first two editions, we had fundamental differences of policy with the promoters," said O'Grady.
"The European Tour is officially involved with the Ryder Cup [Europe v US] and Seve Trophy [UK/Ireland v continental Europe] and the EurAsia Cup will see Europe competing against Asia in an officially sanctioned event."
In further remarks that could inflame feelings among Entertainment Group, the promoters of the Royal Trophy, O'Grady said: "The EurAsia Cup sees these two great continents playing against each other, which Seve would have cherished. We are pleased that the inaugural Eur Asia Cup carries with it the support of Seve's family and the Seve Ballesteros Foundation."
Entertainment Group's co-managing directors are Lincoln Venancio and Ivan Ballesteros, who is a nephew of Ballesteros.
Olazabal, a close friend of Ballesteros with whom he forged a formidable playing partnership at the Ryder Cup during the 1990s, said: "I would call on both sides to sit down and sort this thing out.
"We do not need another Asia versus Europe match involving a maximum of 20 players when we already have a well established Royal Trophy.
"But we do need more full-field events, and I know other players feel the same way."