If the 6.68-metre long HSBC Champions BookMobile was worthy of being included in the Guinness World Records as the longest golf cart in the world, then K.J. Choi's exemplary view that it was time for the professionals to take a cut in appearance fees was one for Ripley's Believe It or Not. You know times are hard when a professional golfer comes out and says he would be willing to take a cut in appearance fees to help out tournaments and sponsors in Asia, who are facing bleak days due to the financial meltdown. Asia's leading golfer, who turned up at a charity event at Kau Sai Chau this week, was quite candid when asked if he would be willing to tee up for less and play at tournaments outside the US PGA Tour where he has been happily ensconced for the past eight years. 'Definitely. If the players are treated reasonably, I think all of us should take a cut in appearance fees if it would help the world of golf,' Choi said. 'I have never been greedy and would play for less money.' Choi is not avaricious. He reminded us of this after winning his seventh PGA title in Hawaii in January, when he donated one-third of his US$954,000 winners' purse to families of 40 victims of a warehouse blaze in Icheon, south of Seoul. His generosity has now been extended to besieged tournament organisers and promoters who are bracing for a rough ride over the next few years as they come to grips with a world of bankrupt banks. It is about time the ranks of professional golfers chipped in. When times were good, they merrily rode the gravy train, collecting obscene amounts just to turn up at tournaments. While the Tiger Woodses of this world raked in millions of dollars - his appearance fee is believed to be in the US$3 million range - others also demanded huge sums of money from tournament organisers. The stars asked for the moon and got it as they knew organisers found them irresistible. It was okay when times were good. But not now? The UBS Hong Kong Open knows first hand the pains of trying to sign up the drawcards. Even the economic tailspin hasn't resulted in demands being scaled down, according to one official involved with the behind-the-scenes deals. 'They are still asking the same numbers as from previous years,' said the frustrated official. 'There has been no reduction and even a relatively unknown player like Martin Kaymer wants US$200,000 to turn up.' Martin who? Padraig Harrington, winner of two majors this year, is going at US$850,000. Adam Scott, US$700,000; Geoff Ogilvy, US$350,000; Lee Westwood and Mike Weir, US$300,000; Colin Montgomerie, US$135,000. Can Hong Kong's oldest professional sporting event - it celebrates its 50th anniversary next month - afford them in times like these. It seems absurd to pay them such amounts, and everyone should heed Choi's words. When Monty turned up in 2005, he was one of the players given 'service fees'. He took home an extra US$200,000, earned the hard and right way, by winning the tournament. 'We don't give appearance fees but there are service fees we give for some players. You can't expect every player to attend a dinner function. We have to pay them, they won't come for free,' said a UBS official at the time. Five-time British Open winner Peter Thomson, who was a guest of honour in Hong Kong last year, took a swipe at the culture of appearance fees in Asia, saying: 'Events in Asia should not be open to rape and pillage by players and their managers.' Thomson is a three-time winner of the Hong Kong Open. He first played here in 1960. It was a different world then. 'I never accepted appearance fees. I even paid for my own ticket to fly to Hong Kong,' Thomson said in an interview last year. 'I considered it immoral to receive an appearance fee.' He called on the PGA Tour and the European Tour to step in and help the Asian Tour management in 'stamping out the exploitation to help save the good name of golf'. That is unlikely to happen. It will be left for individuals like Choi to show the way. The Korean, who at number 16 in the world is the highest-ranked Asian player, would have been a drawcard this year too. But we won't know if he would have taken a cut as he is unavailable. However, his belief that his fellow professionals should consider lowering their expectations comes as a timely warning with officials worldwide fearing the worst. US PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem sounded a cautionary note recently when he said his tour would have a tough sell next year to renew title sponsor contracts that expire in 2010. 'If the instability were to continue for a sustained period of time, we will have a real challenge,' said Finchem. If the world's richest tour is concerned, what should the rest do? Asian Tour chairman Kyi Hla Han said: 'We are fairly worried. It depends on what happens on the US PGA Tour. Their tournaments are bigger budgets, more money, especially the American banks putting in a lot of money.' Unlike in the US or European Tours, where appearance money is frowned upon and is a no-no, Asian sponsors have to factor this cost in. In Asia, banks like HSBC, Barclays and UBS have backed top events and Han is confident they won't back out. UBS has already extended its sponsorship of the Hong Kong Open to next year. 'In Asia, in terms of total sponsorships, these events are still affordable. So hopefully, I don't think there should be much of an impact,' Han said. But every little bit helps. And if the players are willing to take a cut, and not be greedy, it will only help the game.