Asian turf war one to avoid, say HSBC

Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:20am EST
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By Patrick Johnston

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The political turf war between the Asian Tour and rival OneAsia has created a messy environment that has ruled out the involvement of global golf sponsor HSBC, the bank's head of sponsorship Giles Morgan told Reuters.

The two golf circuits have been at loggerheads since OneAsia's inception in 2009 with tournaments swapping hands and the Asian Tour fining their members who competed in their rival's events.

Four members won a restraint of trade case against the Asian Tour in December over the penalties and the rivalry of the duo is set to continue next month when OneAsia's season-opening event, the Thailand Open, goes up against the Asian Tour's Avantha Masters in India on March 14.

The criticism, court cases and confusion were best avoided, said HSBC.

"We absolutely support that we would want to see a clear hierarchy for golf in Asia, there is so much potential and growth here, but I don't want to be involved in it, no," Morgan told Reuters in Singapore on Tuesday ahead of the HSBC Women's Champions event which starts on Thursday.

"In this part of the world it hasn't always been politically plain sailing in golf. We sit above it, so that is not an issue for us."

The lofty perch comes through their World Golf Championship (WGC) HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, China, with an eye-catching $8.5-million prize fund in October.

As one of four WGC events, the tournament is run by the International Federation of PGA Tours, whose members include the U.S. PGA Tour, the European Tour, the Japan Golf Tour, the Australasia Tour, the Sunshine Tour and the Asian Tour.   Continued...

Philippines Juvic Pagunsan is silhouetted against a lake while hitting from the 17th hole fairway during third round of the Volvo Masters of Asia golf tournament, the Asian Tour's season-ending finale, in Bangkok December 8, 2007. REUTERS/Adrees Latif