SINGAPORE: South Korean golfers yesterday performed an abrupt about-turn and abandoned their decision to boycott the fledgling OneAsia Tour.
“Yes, that is the case. Sanity has prevailed,” OneAsia chief executive Ben Sellenger said, without commenting further.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said they agreed to return after being assured that at least 60 spots would be reserved for local players at the three OneAsia Tour events hosted by the country.
The Korean Golf Association also promised that no more Korean tournaments would be added to the OneAsia circuit.
In a statement issued on behalf of 110 players from the Korea Professional Golfers’ Association late yesterday, they claimed OneAsia was not working on their behalf.
They cited discontent at the number of places available to Koreans at next week’s Maekyung Open, the SK Telecom Open and the Korea Open as well as OneAsia simply absorbing existing tournaments and offering nothing new.
Concern was also voiced that it was being dictated by commercial, and not player, interests, something OneAsia denies.
On Wednesday, Sellenger and OneAsia chairman Sang Y. Chun issued an open letter urging the players to rethink, saying the object of the tour was to maximise playing opportunities.
They also warned that if the boycott was carried out at the Maekyung Open, Korean Golf Tour eligibility for all remaining OneAsia events would be removed.
As well as its Korean events, OneAsia hosts six tournaments in China and Australia. A tournament in Indonesia and another in Thailand have also been added this year, although they have yet to announce sponsors.
Several golfers claimed they had been pressured to reverse the boycott.
“The boycott has been called off. Some players were pressured by their sponsors to attend,” said one player, who did not want to be named.
“It’s a shame. Some of them had no choice.”
Kyi Hla Han, executive chairman of the rival Asian Tour, said he was surprised at the turn of events.
“There must be some third-party involvement to suddenly switch within a day,” he said.
“Regardless of what happens, I think the players have got their message across.
“Of course, we respect their decision to play but I know a lot of players are still not happy with OneAsia.” — AFP