Players left to feel like traitors in Asian fine row

Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:05am EST
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By Patrick Johnston

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Two Asian Tour golfers say they have been made to feel like traitors by fellow competitors for challenging the circuit's policy to fine members who play on the rival OneAsia Tour.

Malaysian Danny Chia and Guido Van der Valk of Netherlands have both incurred penalties for playing in OneAsia Tour events and told Reuters that their vocal opposition to the Asian Tour's policy has made life tough since.

Van der Valk has gone one stage further and, together with Australians Terry Pilkadaris and Matthew Griffin and Malaysian Anis Helmi Hassan, has lodged a case in a Singapore court claiming restraint of trade. The verdict is expected later this year.

"It's been interesting," Van der Valk, flashing a coy smile, told Reuters on the sidelines of this week's Singapore Open, where he missed the cut.

"You know when you don't agree with something, and you are kind of forced into doing something like we did as players, you won't be in the good books with management and that is where we are."

Van der Valk and his colleagues are unhappy with the original $5,000 fine that was increased to $10,000 this year as they believe they should be allowed to play elsewhere if the Asian Tour does not stage a tournament that week.

The Asian Tour have been keen to help their players on to the bigger European and PGA Tours, but have introduced fines to deter their members from playing on the rival OneAsia circuit.

"The fines are under the rules and regulations, agreed by the players, which have been enforced by the Asian Tour, a player-led organization," the Asian Tour told Reuters.   Continued...

Danny Chia of Malaysia chips the ball onto the ninth green during the third round of the Hong Kong Open golf tournament November 14, 2009. REUTERS/Bobby Yip