European Tour

EurAsia Cup is no 'mistake'

George O'Grady (AFP)
George O'Grady (AFP)

Singapore - European Tour chief executive George O'Grady has strongly denied saying the new EurAsia Cup team golf tournament was a "mistake" after organisers of a rival event claimed he was having second thoughts.

O'Grady was responding to comments from Ivan Ballesteros, co-managing director of the rival Royal Trophy, who said the European boss had told him that having two similar Europe v Asia tournaments was unsustainable.

"I categorically refute the comments that Ivan has attributed to me stating that the EurAsia Cup is a 'mistake' and 'not sustainable'," O'Grady said in a statement.

"It is simply not the case. We are very much looking forward to the initial playing of the match next month where two excellent teams are coming together under the captaincy of two of the greats of the game - Thongchai Jaidee and Miguel Angel Jimenez."

The EurAsia Cup, which debuts next month in Malaysia, will be a Ryder Cup-style Europe v Asia team event.

It is similar to the longer-established Royal Trophy. The seventh edition of this tournament was held at China's Dragon Lake Golf Club in December.

Organisers of the Royal Trophy, inspired by the late Seve Ballesteros, are furious at the creation of a new tournament.

They were further enraged when O'Grady said the late Spanish great would have "cherished" the EurAsia Cup.

The dispute plays into a long-standing feud between Asia's competing golf circuits.

The Royal Trophy is backed by the OneAsia circuit while the new EurAsia Cup is supported by a rival set-up, the Asian Tour.

On Tuesday Ivan Ballesteros, Seve's nephew and former manager, said the European Tour had told him "that the launch of the EurAsia Cup has developed into a silly situation and that they want to get this sorted.

"They said that this was an initiative driven by the Asian Tour and that two Europe versus Asia events are not sustainable."

O'Grady admitted the "cherished" comment, made in an email interview in December, had been released without his approval.

He added that the European Tour had stopped sanctioning the Royal Trophy because of disagreements with its promoters, including over TV rights.

"The commercial structure of the EurAsia Cup offers The European Tour a tremendous opportunity to further develop business interests, including television rights, in a part of the world where our existing relationships and partnerships are already strong," he said.

"Just as The Ryder Cup delivers substantial benefit in many ways to the Tour and to the countries chosen to host the match, as the EurAsia Cup develops, it is our hope that the countries chosen over the years to showcase the contest will also benefit from a similar legacy."

There was no response from the Asian Tour to the comments from Ballesteros.

The EurAsia Cup, with Spain's Jimenez and Thailand's Thongchai captaining 10-player teams, will be played at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club near Kuala Lumpur from March 27-29.

Other stars in the Europe squad will include Major winner Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, while Asian Tour number one Kiradech Aphibarnrat will head his region's team.

Organisers announced in Malaysia on Wednesday that Japan's Koumei Oda and Hideto Tanihara, along with Kim Hyung-sung of South Korea, will also represent Asia.

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