Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club

The Loop

An Asian turf war brewing?

October 14, 2009

Two stories two days apart suggest that Asia could be targeted by the two most influential golf tours, each seeking new sponsorship and marketing opportunities in a troubled economy.

On Tuesday, it was reported that PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem is headed on an 18-day Asian excursion in part to court potential sponsors.

Thursday's edition of the Times in London is reporting that Padraig Harrington will address the European Tour's players committee regarding the importance of looking to Asia for growth at a time when his peers are contemplating enacting a rule requiring tour members to commit to playing more European Tour events on mainland Europe.

"If the European Tour is to be a viable alternative to the PGA Tour, we have to embrace Asia," Harrington told the newspaper. "We have got $5 million events there in two weeks' time (the Barclays Singapore Open, followed by the HSBC Champions, in Shanghai), and that's where the tour has to look to grow.

"We have to see ourselves as a world tour. It would be narrow-minded to think that we should only be playing golf in Europe. Asia seems to be the growth area, so maybe those are the ones we should be encouraged to play."

One who saw this turf war coming was Guardian golf writer Lawrence Donegan, who in a blog post in August wrote: "I have a theory that behind the public niceties the European Tour and the PGA Tour are in fact locked in a fight to the death, and that this fight will be played out in places like Dubai and Korea."

Regarding Tuesday's news that Finchem was headed to Asia on business, Donegan posted another blog entry, entitled: "Be afraid European Tour. Be very afraid."

-- John Strege