A flourishing period for Asian Golf

Fri 10 Aug 2018

A flourishing period for Asian Golf


Sentosa, August 10: Professional golf in Asia continues its ascension, evident from the Asian Tour’s robust schedule this season, the outstanding performances of Asian golfers at tournaments globally and the recent rankings boost for two domestic circuits.

The number of events on the Asian Tour has risen significantly over the past three years, from 24 in the 2016 season to more than 30 in 2018. This is demonstrated by the addition of several events both new and returning to the Tour. 2018 has seen the long-awaited return of marquee events in Korea, China and the Ho Tram Players Championship in Vietnam.

The Tour has also introduced new events such as the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open, Asia-Pacific Classic in China, Sarawak Championship in Malaysia and the upcoming UMA CNS Open Golf Championship in Pakistan.

The season long Habitat for Humanity Standings race is set to reach an exciting climax at the Indonesian Masters which is the Tour’s finale in mid-December.

This week, the Asian Tour is holding the US$350,000 TAKE Solutions Masters in Bangalore, India. This is the tournament’s second straight edition on Tour, and its successful staging is the outcome of the Tour’s close ties with the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).

The PGTI runs one of the continent’s strongest domestic circuits that has helped paved the way for household names on the Asian Tour such as Anirban Lahiri, Jyoti Randhawa and Gaganjeet Bhullar, who recently won the Fiji International that is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and the Tour of Australasia.

Shubhankar Sharma, the current Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings leader, also plied his trade on the PGTI before becoming a two-time Asian Tour winner and a rising star in the international game. As recently as last season, Sharma could be seen participating in numerous home events where he was victorious in two occasions.

Similarly, the All Thailand Golf Tour (ATGT) has been in partnership with the Asian Tour over the past two decades.  The platform has produced renowned golfers such as three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Thongchai Jaidee, 18-time Asian Tour winner Thaworn Wiratchant and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who has virtually secured a PGA Tour card for the 2019 season by virtue of his recent performances.

Most recently, the Asian Tour has worked closely with the ATGT on the staging of two events on the Asian Development Tour. These events, played in Thailand, have provided valuable playing opportunties for local players to compete on the international stage.

In recent months the Asian Tour has also seen Thai players triumphant on home soil at the Thailand Open and the Queen’s Cup, which were won by home-grown talents Panuphol Pittayarat and Jazz Janewattananond respectively.

Following a decision by the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) Governing Board in July, the PGTI and the ATGT will be included into the OWGR system from 2019 onwards. With this, tournament winners on these domestic circuits will earn a minimum of five OWGR points.

In addition, the top five golfers on the respective Order of Merit lists at the end of the season will receive spots at the Final Stage of the Asian Tour Qualifying School, with the top-ranked player earning playing rights on Asia’s premier circuit.

The OWGR is used to determine eligibility to lucrative events such as Major championships, World Golf Championship tournaments, the World Cup, Olympic golf tournament and several other high-profile events worldwide.

With these domestic Tours attaining OWGR points from 2019, Asian golfers will have more opportunities to earn points and work their way up the rankings.

All Thailand Tour Commissioner Jakraphong Thongyai has hailed the recent developments. He said: “The inclusion of the ATGT into the OWGR system not only elevates our standards, but it also enhances the opportunity of golfers to improve their standing on the OWGR and compete at the higher level. It has been a long process and it is not easy for a local Tour from a relatively small country to be eligible. With our long-term commitment and Asian Tour’s continued support, we have reached our major milestone.”

PGTI Chief Executive Officer Uttam Singh Mundy is also pleased with his organisation’s achievement. He said: “Golf in India has grown significantly in recent years. The Asian Tour is a close partner of the PGTI, and it is with their continued support that we have attained the OWGR status. This will certainly give an added incentive to our local professionals prepare for the international stage and, also those already playing on higher tours.”

Asian Tour Chief Operating Officer Cho Minn Thant, said: “The Asian Tour is always looking at new ways to collaborate with local golf bodies to build on existing relationships and instilling goodwill. The ultimate goal is to put Asia on the map as a golfing force and this begins with development at domestic level.

“With the All Thailand Tour and the PGTI now being inducted into the OWGR system, we believe this can only promote the game further in the respective regions which in turn will lead to generating further interest in golf.”