March 21, 2017: Asian Tour stars believe the recently-announced strategic partnership between the China Golf Association (CGA) and Asian Tour will be a massive boost for the growth and development of professional golf in the region.
Under this new and exciting collaboration, golfers will enjoy increased playing opportunities as the CGA and Asian Tour plan to stage up to four new events in China this year where earnings will count towards the Asian Tour Order of Merit and China Tour Order of Merit.
Indian ace Jeev Milkha Singh, a two-time Asian Tour Order of Merit champion and a winner in China previously, expressed his excitement over the milestone partnership which was signed in Shanghai last Friday.
“This is great news. This is not only a good thing for the Asian Tour but it will also benefit the golf scene in China. I am sure golf in the region will grow stronger from this partnership, especially with the increased playing opportunities for players.
“Winning the 2006 Volvo China Open was one of the sweetest moments I had in my career. It was a turning point for me and it will always be special. I have a lot of good memories in China and I am looking forward to going back again,” said the 45-year-old Singh.
“I remembered those days when I played in China. Not many people knew about golf then. But things are really very different now. The golf scene in China has improved a lot over the years. There are many world-class courses in China now.
“When I played there years ago, Zhang (Lian-wei) was one of the few active Chinese players on Tour. It’s good to see a lot of talented players around now like Liang Wen-chong, Wu Ashun, Li Haotong and many more,” Singh added.
Fello Indian Rahil Gangjee, 38, was equally thrilled with the new tie-up, which will see the Asian Tour returning to China for co-sanctioned events with the CGA after a nine-year gap. It also brought back fond memories of his breakthrough Asian Tour victory in China some 13 years ago.
“When I found out that we are going back to China, I recalled a lot of happy memories from my win in Beijing and I was also excited because there are many good courses in China now. I am hopeful the tournaments will grow in strength over the coming years,” said Gangjee.
Thailand’s Prom Meesawat, a two-time Asian Tour champion, also praised the new partnership. “It’s good to see the Asian Tour working with CGA again to create more playing opportunities for players.
“I hope this relationship can become stronger and the tournaments will be successful. I missed playing in China. It has been a long time since I last played an Asian Tour event there,” said the 32-year-old Prom.
Lahiri tweeted “Onward and upwards #AsiaRising” while Wang wrote “Really good news to hear Asian Tour going back into China again. Massive. Well done! #whereitsAT”.
Golfers from the China Tour will be eligible to take up associate memberships with the Asian Tour, with the top-five non-exempt players from the China Tour Order of Merit receiving spots in the Final Stage of the Asian Tour Qualifying School in 2018.
Winners of these new co-sanctioned tournaments in China will also earn exemptions on the Asian Tour under the winner’s category.
The prize purses of the new events will range from US$300,000 to US$500,000 and more CGA and Asian Tour co-sanctioned tournaments will be staged from 2018 and beyond.