WITH the vision of uniting Asia's warring golf tours in mind, the National Golf Association of the Philippines will be holding the Philippine Open in December with players from the Asian, One Asia and Japan Tours seeing action.
One Asia has committed to enlisting 25 of its top players and is close to striking a deal with the Japan Tour to be able to invite at least the same number of standouts from there to play in the December 5-8 event at fabled Wack Wack East course.
“We have developed a unique relationship with the Japan Tour and I would like to see it happen in the Philippines,” Sang Chun, One Asia’s chairman and commissioner, said during the press launch of the event at Wack Wack on Friday.
“The Philippine Open is steeped in history and is the oldest (national) championship in Asia,” Chun said.
Chun will be flying to Japan on Thursday armed with a memorandum of agreement with the NGAP for the next three years. The 2014 playdate of the Open will then be held either in March of April so that it is off-season in Japan.
The organizing NGAP has also opened the tournament's doors for at least 40 Filipino pros, allowing them to see action in a big-money tournament against some of the best players in the region.
“We want our pros to be able to play against the very best in the region,” said NGAP president Tommy Manotoc, who was also joined in the launch by Wack Wack president and NGAP director Philip Ella Juico, Wack Wack vice-president Butch Campos, One Asia media director David Fox, NGAP vice-president Caloy Coscoluella and NGAP junior golf development head Aurelio Montinola.
“This will be entirely a show run by the NGAP this year,” Manotoc added. “But for the next three years starting next year, the Open will be an event that will be co-sanctioned by the One Asia and Japan Tours.”
“This is a wonderful initiative by the NGAP,” Fox said. “It just remains to be seen what the Asian Tour will do.”
The NGAP has also signed a deal that will have the fabled tournament staying at the historic East course for its next two stagings.
One Asia and the Asian Tour have been at odds ever since the formation of One Asia in 2009, with the Asian Tour even penalizing some of its players who played in the rival dcircuit.
That issue was resolved by a Singapore court, which asked the Asian Tour to return the fines paid by the players. The Asian Tour did not contest the ruling, sending a signal that augurs well for Manotoc’s vision.
The PH Open playdate also runs smack into the Hong Open, an Asian Tour event co-sanctioned by the much-stronger European Tour, which will fill 75 percent of the field.
And with only 25 percent of Asian Tour regulars allowed to play there, Manotoc believes that the Philippine Open will attract quality participation from the Asian Tour in December.
“One Asia believes that, bottomline, the more tournaments there are, the more opportunities we can give our players,” Chun said.