State Of Pro Golf In Asia
Asian Game Growing Despite World Economy
The Asian Tour, No. 3 in the world in purses, is joined on the upswing by rival OneAsia and overall growth in China and India.
BY V KRISHNASWAMY
Ironically, this comes at a time when Asian golfers are at their best – be it Y.E. Yang, Ryo Ishi- kawa, Jeev Milkha Singh, K.J. Choi or Thongchai Jaidee. The Asian Tour’s schedule, which opens Feb. 4-7 with the Asian Tour International, looks lean for the first few months, with gaps yet to be filled for late March and early April and mid and late May. The tour filled one open slot with a new event, the Yeangder TPC, to be played in Taipei in mid-September. And the schedule picks up in the latter half of the season with some star-powered tournaments, including the European Masters in Switzerland – an Asian Tour event in Europe – and the $6 mil- lion Asia Pacific Golf Classic in Ma- laysia, an event co-sanctioned with the U.S. PGA Tour. Add to that the $7 million WGC-HS- BC Champions in China and
Asian golf has never had so many
suitors. Nor has it had as many prob-
lems. Spanning from Japan to China,
Thailand and Malaysia and India – the
Middle East has never seen itself as a
part of Asian golf – the sport seemed to
be witnessing unprecedented growth.
at least seven other co-sanctioned
events with Europe
and one with
nounced for 2010, five were previ-
ously Asian Tour stops, including the
Volvo China Open, Maekyung and
Korea Opens and Thailand Open.
OneAsia opens its tour April 1-4 with
the Luxehills Challenge in China.
The Asian Tour, the third-richest after the U.S.
PGA Tour and European Tour, has 28-30 events
this year including WGC events and the four major
championships. It plans to take that number to 35
with a total purse of $45 million by 2012.
sional events in the country played each
year among men and women. But that
has dropped almost 60 percent. The
Japan Golf Tour had 44 events in 1990
and 43 in 1991. Through the 1990s, the
figure stayed around 36 to 38. It was
down to 31 by 2001 and dropped below
30 soon after. Last year it was 25, which
is where it is expected to stay in 2010.
Japanese golf looks to its latest star,
the “Bashful Prince” – the 18-year-old
Ishikawa – to bring back its glory days.
$250,000 to as much 2. 5 million for
the co-sanctioned Ballantine’s event.
But 2009 saw Korean pro golf also take a
big hit. The calendar is now down to 16
events in 2010. Koreans Yang, Choi and
others such as Charlie Wi and Ameri-can-Koreans Anthony Kim and Kevin
Na have made a big mark in Korea and
promise to do more.
China became the flavor of the
decade for sponsors around 2005. So
much so, a few years back, there was e
Ryo Ishikawa is the unquestioned flag-bearer for Asian golf,
able to create a Woods-like fervor there.