Thursday, July 3, 2008

Asian Tour Kicks MPGA in Groin

(Picture is of Thongchai Jaidee)
THE Asian Tour yesterday took a broad-side sweep at the Malaysian Professional Golfers Association (MPGA), claiming that it was not interested in developing its pros. In a statement, Asian PGA executive chairman Kyi Hla Han singled out MPGA as the only golf body in the region that it has not been able to work with in its goal to develop the professional game across Asia. “Over the years, the Asian Tour has been invited to sanction professional golf tournaments in no fewer than 16 countries.
“We have worked closely with national PGAs and golf associations and subsequently helped develop the game in places like India, Thailand, Singapore, China and South Korea. “This in turn has produced great champions like Jeev Singh, Thongchai Jaidee, Mardan Mamat, Liang Wen-chong and K.J. Choi,” said Han.
“Unfortunately, the MPGA is the only organisation which we have had problems with over the years and it’s hindering the growth of Malaysian golf.”
Han said the Malaysian PGA was not representing the best interests of Malaysian golf and its players.
He also revealed that a new tournament was moved from Malaysia to Thailand earlier this year due to problems within MPGA and warned that professional golf in Malaysia could suffer as sponsors take events to neighbouring countries.
“The MPGA recently suspended over 20 of Malaysia’s best professional players like Airil Rizman, Danny Chia and Iain Steel and interestingly, these players have formed a new Malaysian players’ body,” said Han.
“As the Asian Tour is a players’ organisation, we expect the MPGA to adhere to the same principles as us and work towards enhancing the careers of their players. We are deeply disappointed that the MPGA has done very little to develop golf and is clearly not looking after the interests of Malaysian players.
“Sponsors and state governments are wary of dealing with the MPGA because of its perennial problems. Sponsors do not want the MPGA’s sanction as it does not represent Malaysia’s best players or their interests.”
The Asian Tour, Han added, has supported Malaysian players by providing country exemptions for them to play on Tour and also through places in the Qualifying School .
“Through playing opportunities on the Asian Tour, Airil and Danny have won titles in Pakistan and Taiwan and Iain has also performed very well over the last few years.
“Upcoming players like Ben Leong, S. Siva Chandran, Steven Tan and Khor Kheng Hwai are cutting their professional teeth on the Asian Tour.”
The Asian Tour has been invited by the Selangor state government to sanction the RM1 million Selangor Masters at Seri Selangor Golf Club from Aug 6-9.
A strong contingent of 32 Malaysian players will have the opportunity to rub shoulders with the stars from the Asian Tour.
The leading eight Malaysian professionals ranked on the Asian Tour will gain exemptions while another 10 players will earn places through a domestic ranking system as determined by the Selangor Masters organising committee and Asian Tour.
A qualifying tournament, opened to local professionals and amateurs with a handicap of three and below, will be held for 10 slots while four places will also be offered to the country’s leading amateurs as part of efforts to help develop golf in Malaysia .