SEOUL: South Korean golf’s governing body said yesterday they will go ahead with tournaments on the OneAsia circuit despite a boycott by local players.
Many Koreans are refusing to play in this year’s OneAsia tournaments in protest at stricter qualification standards.
Korea Golf Association (KGA) vice-president Kim Dong-Wook told reporters: “We will keep persuading them but the upcoming (Maekyung Open) event will be held as scheduled, even if they are absent.”
The boycott comes after the KGA announced tougher rules for South Korean events on the series, a rival to the Asian Tour.
Previous tournaments drew up to 100 local golfers but just 40 top-seeded players will be allowed to take part in this year’s OneAsia tournaments under the new rules.
The association later promised to create more spots for local players, who want OneAsia organisers to come up with new events rather than absorbing South Korean tournaments into their package.
OneAsia, whose vision is to offer an alternative playing platform to the US PGA and European Tours, was launched in January last year, bringing together Tours from China, South Korea and Australia.
It has grand visions and expects to host 11 of the Asia-Pacific region’s most important golf tournaments this year for a total of US$13mil in prize money.
But is at loggerheads with the more established Asian Tour, which is worth almost US$38mil last year and expects to host 27 events.
The three tournaments to be hosted by OneAsia in South Korea this year are the GS Caltex Maekyung Open, the SK Telecom Open and the Kolon-Hana Bank Korea Open. The Maekyung Open starts on May 6.
KGA officials said local amateur and professional golfers who do not support the boycott would be allowed to compete in the Maekyung Open.
“We cannot hold this event without local players,” a KGA official said on condition of anonymity.— AFP