Japan Tour keen to spread wings without structural change

Tue Feb 2, 2016 4:09am EST
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By Patrick Johnston

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The Japan Golf Tour Organization (JGTO) are keen to increase their involvement in co-sanctioned events abroad but remain opposed to any radical changes to Asia's organizational structure, a senior director told Reuters.

The JGTO, along with the well-established China Golf Association, Korean Tour and Australian PGA have seen the golf market in the region muddied by a turf war between the Asian Tour and OneAsia circuits over recent years.

The Asian Tour resumed merger talks with the European Tour last month but JGTO official Kenji Tanaka said China, Australia, Korea, Japan and others were better off running their own circuits rather than signing up to a single overlord.

"It's necessary to have individual country tours because if there is only one tour, only a limited number of players can play that tour," he told Reuters through a translator at last week's Singapore Open.

"Right now, we are a member of the (International Golf) Federation... we are very much satisfied with that situation. Also we have lots of historical tournaments in Japan, some are 40 years old."

The JGTO is the largest circuit in the continent with 25 events for the 2016 season, offering a wealthier prize pool and more tournaments than the Asian or OneAsia Tours.

Tanaka said his body would like to expand to 30 events with the help of the European and Asian Tours as well as the U.S. PGA Tour, who made a big drive in the continent by setting up the 12-tournament PGA Tour of China in 2014.