On the professional tours, the biggest buzz over the past year has been concerning the Strategic Alliance between the European Tour & Asian Tour. The idea is to cooperate instead of competing for sponsorships in Asia. The European Tour already co sanctions 8 events per year in Asia. The US PGA tour, through CIMB Classic in Malaysia, HSBC WGC in China and the tie up with the China Tour is attracting big sponsor money in Asia. Also the US LPGA has made a big move into Asia with The HSBC Women’s in Singapore and the LPGA KEB HANA Bank Championship in Korea.
In Order to create a more attractive product for television and sponsors by combining the quality of the European Tour with the local appeal of Asian players, the tie up is meant to provide a stronger proposition for sponsors & brands in Asia who want to associate with Golf. In order to get more clarity on the subject, Golf Digest India spoke to then Asian Tour commissioner Kyi Hla Han.
We will keep tracking this story as it directly affects the careers of India’s top pro talent.
GDI: What does the alliance mean to players on either tour?
The Asian Tour and European Tour have been working very closely through our co-sanction programme since 1999. Since that time, we have jointly staged nearly 100 tournaments with approximately US$190 million in prize funds on offer to our players. The careers of many of our members such as Thongchai Jaidee, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Anirban Lahiri, SSP Chowrasia and Jeev Milkha Singh have benefited where they have become international champions through the opportunities to compete away from Asian soil.
GDI: Do the tours continue their respective schedules including joint sanctioned events?
Both Tours will continue to be run independently, meaning we will manage the Asian Tour Schedule but work closely with the European Tour to ensure that both our Schedules are planned effectively for both our memberships to enjoy the best playing and earning opportunities around the world.
GDI: How does this increase playing opportunities for AT players?
At the King’s Cup in Thailand recently, we allocated 25 spots to European Tour members and there will be similar arrangements for Asian Tour members to compete in European Tour events in Europe through our Strategic Alliance.
GDI: Benefits of this for players on either tour?
From an Asian Tour perspective, our players will have greater opportunities to take their careers onto the next level by performing well in co-sanctioned tournaments. As what we’ve seen previously, players like SSP Chowrasia, Anirban Lahiri, Jeev Milkha Singh and Arjun Atwal earned playing rights in Europe by winning co-sanctioned tournaments in Asia and with more playing opportunities for our players through the Strategic Alliance, they will have every opportunity to fast-track their careers with strong performances in the co-sanctioned events.
GDI: Sponsor benefits from this alliance?
The Asian Tour and European Tour have our own media assets, such as our television and digital platforms, and when we combine these assets that already enjoy a global reach, we will offer our sponsors more value, exposure and return of investment. Sponsors obviously want every dollar that they spend equated to a value and we are very confident we will be able to enhance this sponsorship value through our assets.
GDI: Developmental activities to grow the game envisaged?
Right now, the Asian Development Tour, which is our developmental circuit in the region, will continue to run independently with the aim of providing playing opportunities for rising stars of the game in Asia. We will evaluate this in the near future to see if it will add value to us if we are to work with Europe’s Challenge Tour.
GDI: How do the commercials work for this? Does it increase budgets for the tours?
The European Tour will set up a joint-office with the Asian Tour in Singapore in the coming months as part of our Strategic Alliance and our marketing and commercial efforts will be coordinated from this office. Through this initiative, there will be better coordination and focus in regards to sales efforts which we believe will allow us to attract new sponsors into the game.