Shanghai, China: The China Golf Association (CGA) and Asian Tour have entered a strategic partnership which aims to grow the game through the creation of new tournaments in China that will be co-sanctioned by both organisations.
Described as a ‘game-changer’ and ‘a new chapter in Asian golf’, the announcement comes nine years after the CGA effectively cut ties with the Asian Tour and became a founding partner of OneAsia, whose future is now unclear.
Under this new collaboration, 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 the China Tour Order of Merit.
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 exemptions into the Final Stage of the Asian Tour Qualifying School in 2018.
Winners of these new co-sanctioned tournaments in China will also earn their exemption on the Asian Tour under the winner’s category.
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.
Wang Liwei, CGA Vice President, said: “We are delighted to announce our new and exciting partnership with the Asian Tour. The last time the CGA worked with the Asian Tour was in 2008. We welcome the Asian Tour back to China and look forward to co-sanctioning a number of tournaments so as to develop the game of golf in China and also in Asia.
“As the governing body for golf in China, the CGA continues to place utmost importance towards the development of golf in our country. We are optimistic our partnership with the Asian Tour will generate greater interest in the game amongst sports fans and sponsors in China and also provide Chinese professional golfers with many career pathways onto the international stage.”
Asian Tour CEO Josh Burack said: “We are honoured to forge a strategic partnership with the CGA which is a significant development for professional golf in Asia. The CGA has been fantastic in sharing their vision to grow the game in China which is aligned to our own mission to do the same in China and across Asia as a whole.
“Re-starting co-operation is a game-changer for the Asian Tour and CGA as the creation of new tournaments will greatly enhance playing opportunities for our players and for the many talented players coming up from China.
“Winners of these new tournaments in China will receive their playing cards on the Asian Tour, which also open up their pathways through the tournaments we co-sanction with other Tours. The Asian Tour is enthusiastic to work with the CGA again as this partnership is going to benefit the players tremendously.
“Through our partnership with the CGA, we are confident Chinese golfers will have every opportunity to compete and excel at the highest level through our tournaments featuring greater Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points in China and across the region.
“At the same time, these new tournaments will provide more playing opportunities for our existing Asian Tour members who will be delighted to return to China. This is a terrific new chapter for Asian golf,” said Burack.
As a member of the International Federation of PGA Tours, the Asian Tour has been a sanctioning partner of the WGC-HSBC Champions, which takes place annually in Shanghai and is the only World Golf Championships event staged in Asia. Until now, this was the only Asian Tour sanctioned event in China.
The Asian Tour previously co-sanctioned and staged tournaments in China with the CGA from 1995 until 2008. During that period, a pioneer group of Chinese professional golfers emerged onto the scene, with Zhang Lian-wei enjoying the most success with five victories on the Asian Tour.
Zhang, a committee member of the CGA and board member of the Asian Tour said: “I’m delighted the China Golf Association has entered into this strategic partnership with the Asian Tour. I’m confident this partnership will grow from strength to strength which will ultimately go a long way towards promoting the development of golf in China.”