SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - A boycott by South Korean golfers unhappy with new qualification rules instituted by the OneAsia circuit will not stop organizers from holding upcoming tournaments, the Korean Golf Association said on Monday.
The OneAsia Tour was launched last year as a joint venture between the Australian PGA and governing bodies in Asia, including China and South Korea. The tour scheduled 11 events for this year across the Asia-Pacific region.
However, OneAsia has met opposition from the more established Asian Tour as well as from South Korean players unhappy that the international circuit is absorbing locals-only tournaments such as the Maekyung Open.
The golfers have protested against what they call quotas against local players, and a group of about 135 pros announced two weeks ago that they would not compete in three upcoming OneAsia tournaments in South Korea: The SK Telecom Open, the Kolon-Hana Bank Korea Open and the GS Caltex Maekyung Open.
Players have complained that only half the number of South Koreans who normally compete in the tournaments will be able to participate this year. Korean PGA tournaments typically draw up to 100 local golfers.
The Korean Golf Association said 72 South Koreans will compete in the Maekyung Open, which offers $905,000 (1 billion won) in prize money. The four-day tournament next month is expected to draw more than 150 players from Australia, China and South Korea.
"We have explained to them that they will not be disadvantaged at the events, but they refused to take part in the tournaments," said Kim Dong-wook, KGA vice president. "We will keep persuading them, but the upcoming event will be held as scheduled, even if they are absent."
If the boycott continues, South Korean officials will speak to their counterparts in China and Australia to discuss how to fill the vacancies, he said.
The Seoul Open is in June and the Korea Open in October. South Korea's Y.E. Yang won the tour's second event, the China Open, just over a week ago.