Asian Tour scores on all fronts in first half of the yearBy IANS
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR - From newly-inked global TV deals to toasting new partners and welcoming new tournaments and champions, the Asian Tour has enjoyed a spectacular first half of the year.
Asia’s young guns dominated the first six months of the year with India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar claiming his second Asian Tour title at the Asian Tour International in Thailand while Australian Andrew Dodt won his maiden title at the Avantha Masters.
Korea’s Noh Seung-yul, currently leading the Order of Merit, produced arguably one of the best shots of the season so far to defeat his idol and Asian Tour honorary member K.J. Choi at the Maybank Malaysian Open while rookie Rikard Karlberg started life in Asia with victory at the SAIL Open in India.
The return of the Air Bagan Myanmar Open after a four-year hiatus also heralded a new champion in Tetsuji Hiratsuka of Japan, who went on to claim a sensational second title of the year at the Queen’s Cup in Thailand.
Australia’s Marcus Fraser signed up as an Asian Tour member after his victory at the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea which ended a seven-year winless run.
Off the course, a total of 11 deals were sealed with leading broadcasters while the first of four new events this year, the Avantha Masters in India, was successfully launched which heralded first-time winner Andrew Dodt, one of many new rising stars from Australia.
Landmark television deals were signed in the United Kingdom, Australia, China, India, Thailand, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Philippines, Malaysia and Middle East, to name a few, which underlined the growing strength of Asian Tour Television which began its in-house operations last year.
Sponsors continued to throw their support behind the Asian Tour. They include Singha Beer (Official Beer), Swedish designer company J. Lindeberg (Official Apparel), Royal Selangor Pewter (Official Trophy Supplier), Pan Pacific (Official Hotel) and Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier).
The Asian Development Tour, designed along the lines of the Nationwide Tour in the United States and European Challenge Tour, also took off with the inaugural Air Bagan Myanmar Masters. Further events in Malaysia and Indonesia have been confirmed and new events in Chinese Taipei and Indonesia are in the pipeline for later this year.
Asian Tour players continued to remain in the forefront with reigning Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand breaking into the world’s top-50 and flying the Asian flag at The Masters, qualifying for the quarterfinals at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and earning an exemption to play in the US Open via his World Rankings.
Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han lauded the eventful start to the 2010 season.
“It has been a memorable year so far for us, both on and off the golf course. Corporate Asia continues to back us strongly with numerous new partners signing up and events coming on board as well.
“Our new TV platform has ensured that the best of Asian golf will be showcased extensively around the world and the likes of Thongchai Jaidee, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Noh Seung-yul and Andrew Dodt have certainly made a strong impression.”
The second half of the Asian Tour season begins with the sixth staging of the Brunei Open from July 29 to August 1, 2010. Other new events which will make their debuts include the Handa Singapore Classic, the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in Chinese Taipei and CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia.