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New Tour takes a hit as Beijing Open called off

THE battle for control of professional golf in Asia has already taken a toll on the fledgling OneAsia tour, which has postponed the second of six events scheduled for this season.

Organizers of the Beijing Open have called off the May 7-10 event, saying it would be rescheduled at a later - unspecified - date.

Wang Liwei, a deputy director at the China Golf Association, gave two reasons yesterday for the delay. He said course playing conditions at the Beijing venue - Pine Valley Golf Resort and Country Club - were unsuitable. He did not offer specifics. He also said the event conflicted with The Players Championship in the United States, also being held May 7-10.

Launched by the PGA of Australasia, the China Golf Association and the Korean Golf Association and PGA, OneAsia is attempting to break away from the established Asian Tour.

Wang said OneAsia's opening event - the China Open - would be held next week as scheduled at the CBD International Club in Beijing. The other events this season are to be played in South Korea, China and Australia. The Japan Tour has wavered over its participation in the OneAsia but was expected to join in 2010.

OneAsia is hoping to grow rapidly, planning on at least 20 tournaments by 2011, to become the third largest golf tour behind the US and European tours.

In a statement issued by the rival Asian Tour, Lam Chih Bing, chairman of the Asian Tour's Tournament Players Committee, said the new tour was causing confusion and the postponement of the Beijing Open highlighted that.


"This is very disappointing as this would have been the third year for us to play the event on the Asian Tour," Lam said. "Everything was fine until OneAsia announced the event on their schedule, completely confusing the market and sponsors."

Zhang Xiaoning, director of the China Golf Association, has said the new tour would give upstart Chinese golfers a better chance to develop their games.

He said Chinese entries at next week's event could double from last year's 14 when the tournament was sanctioned by the Asian Tour.

Many Asian Tour players have elected not to play in the OneAsia events. However, some with dual memberships in the Asian tour and European tour, may choose to play. The highest profile player in next week's China Open is Colin Montgomerie, the eight-time winner of Europe's money list.

Ben Sellenger, commissioner of the Australian PGA, said OneAsia was the first set in creating an elite new tour that would "sit above and complement the regional tours."

The Asian Tour has been opposed to a rival continental series since its conception.

"The Asian Tour is shocked and disapproves of this desperate attempt by the PGA of Australia to revive its flagging domestic circuit, through its proposed creation of a series by listing events which are already part of the Asian Tour schedule," Asian Tour executive chairman Kyi Hla Han said earlier this year.

The Asian Tour will sanction 28 tournaments across the region in 2009.


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