Ramlan Harun dreams of the day when the Asian Davidoff PGA Tour will be on par with its more illustrious peers like the US Tour and European Tour. Presently that might seem a pipe dream to many observers, but Harun, the executive director and co-founder of the Asian Tour, dares to hope. Even in these troubled times. Having survived the Asian meltdown from 1997 to 1999, the Asian PGA Tour looked set to cash in with increased prize-money and standards of play. But once again outside forces have conspired to drag down the Tour, which this year has lost three events. 'Asia is a volatile place. There is intense pressure, not only economically but also politically. This is such an uncertain market and we have been affected. But I'm confident we will expand and grow in the future,' Harun said yesterday. Two things are necessary for the Tour to grow, according to Harun. A larger number of tournaments and better prize-money. The US$700,000 Omega Hong Kong Open, the last leg of the 2001 season, might be one of the biggest events on the Asian calendar but compares poorly with Europe, where minimum prize money is in the range of US$1 million. 'More prize-money will also serve to keep our players at home. Presently we see a large number of our talented players leaving for greener pastures . . . playing elsewhere simply because the money is better. This loss is inevitable. It is like parents losing their children. You nurture them and then they grow up and get married and we have to say goodbye. But hopefully one day they will come back,' Harun said. Players like India's number two Arjun Atwal, Korean Charlie Wi and Thai duo Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng - all of whom are in action this weekend - are in line to devote most of their time on other tours next season. Atwal has already secured a card on the European Tour and Wi and Jaidee are in the race to win the Asian PGA Order of Merit and secure an exemption to play on the lucrative Japan Tour. While happy that they will be able to play at a much higher level and thus hone their skills, Harun is also sad to see them go. 'At the moment our Tour is a stepping stone for the players to better things. I hope the day will soon come when we will be able to keep them in our Tour.' When the Asian PGA was formed back in 1995, it started with 18 tournaments that offered total prize-money of US$5.5 million. It reached a high of 22 tournaments in 1997 before settling at the current 18 legs. Despite the decrease in the number of tournaments - events in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines were scratched this season - the total prize-money has not fallen. In fact it has increased from US$7.6 million last year to US$7.9 million this year. And to add credibility, four events, including Hong Kong, are being co-sanctioned by the European Tour. 'We lost the events in Indonesia and the Philippines due to political problems. The Thailand event was because of financial considerations. But we are now looking at expanding it again,' Harun said. 'We are getting there. Playing standards are increasing by leaps and bounds. This year we had two Asians, Anthony Kang and Thongchai Jaidee, in the US Open and I was pleasantly surprised that they went all four rounds.'