OneAsia Tour hammer blow as Koreans pull out

SINGAPORE (AFP) The fledgling OneAsia Tour was dealt a hammer blow on Tuesday when Korean golfers voted to boycott all of its events across the region. The outcome of a Korea Professional Golfers Association (KPGA) meeting in Seoul was worse than OneAsia expected, with players previously only threatening to stay away from local tournaments. Now they have pulled the plug on all other events, which are hosted by China and Australia. The players will boycott every OneAsia event in the Asian region, not just in Korea, Korea Professional Golfers Association (KPGA) director of operations BJ Song told AFP after the meeting. The way OneAsia is run is not approriate for us. The Koreans are unhappy at the number of places available to locals at next weeks Maekyung Open and the SK Telecom Open. But there was also discontent with the tour simply absorbing existing tournaments and offering nothing new, as well as concern that it was being dictated by commercial, and not player, interests. Song suggested that they would like to realign themselves with the established Asian Tour, which used to co-sanction the Maekyung Open and SK Telecom before Oneasia hit the scene. The Asian Tour is a member of the International Golf Federation. OneAsia is not, he said. And OneAsia is run by SBS, he added, referring to the Korean broadcaster whose president, Sang Y. Chun, was earlier this month appointed OneAsias new chairman and commissioner. OneAsia chief executive Ben Sellenger confirmed the outcome of the meeting. Yes, that is what I heard. We will sit down with the board in the next 24 hours and see how it pans out, he told AFP in Singapore, where he is based. He denied television interests ran the tour. There is a common misunderstanding of our structure. We are a not-for-profit organisation and well move further towards having more player representation. The Singapore-based World Sport Group, currently embroiled in the Indian Premier League cricket scandal, is OneAsias key marketing and television production and distribution partner. Despite the boycott, Sellenger insisted that all the tours events would continue, and suggested Korean players could still be involved via qualifying routes other than the Korean Golf Tour. The events will go ahead. Well deal with it, he said. Asian Tour executive chairman Kyi Hla Han, who has long been critical of the OneAsia Tour, said the Korean pull-out was indicative of the way it was run. To me it shows the structure and foundation of OneAsia is lacking, Kyi Hla, who returned from Seoul on Monday after meetings with Korean golfing authorities and the European Tour, told AFP. I think it is struggling. I feel we made the right decision not to join forces with them. It shows there are cracks in the initiative. It also shows that the players voices must be listened to. OneAsia, whose vision is to offer an alternative playing platform to the US PGA and European Tours, was established last year by bringing together Tours from China, South Korea and Australia. It has grand visions but has so far failed to get the influential Japan Golf Tour on board and is at loggerheads with the Asian Tour, which has accused it of stealing its tournaments.

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