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The boss of the Saudi-linked Asian Tour, one of the fastest growing circuits in world golf, has called on golf’s powerbrokers to keep a seat for Asia at the sport’s new top table, and urged them not to ignore Australia under a revamped schedule.
Cho Minn Thant, who has overseen a rapid rise in the standing of the Asian Tour after introducing 10 events backed by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, has implored the new entity formed after the agreement between the legacy PGA and DP World tours and the Saudi backers of LIV Golf to consider Australasian fans strongly.
Cho described the recent LIV Adelaide event as “one of the best we’ve seen in the history of golf”.
The PIF’s governor Yasir al-Rumayyan will act as the chairman of the new entity and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will be its chief executive.
Asked about the Asian Tour’s place in golf’s ecosystem, Cho told this masthead: “The Asian Tour has done enough over the last two years to have a proper seat at the table and not just be passengers.
“We’re pretty confident we’re going to be relevant and have a seat at the table in these conversations. It would be a great shame if all the top players went back to playing in America.
Cho Minn Thant (right) with LIV CEO Greg Norman in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.Credit: Getty
“What LIV has done is brought world-class players around the world. It was massive in Adelaide, it was very big in Singapore and I’m sure it would be very big in other places like Hong Kong, Japan and Korea.
“We’re going to have to make sure international golf remains on the agenda and it doesn’t revert back to the way it was.”
Australia has produced multiple PGA Tour winners Cameron Smith, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Jason Day in the last decade, but world golf’s biggest circuit shunned an event Down Under.
The PGA of Australia was on Thursday holding urgent talks with overseas powerbrokers to understand where Australia was likely to fit in the new landscape. It is expected they will lobby for an event on the new schedule, whatever form it takes.
‘I still hate LIV’: Rory McIlroy at the RBC Canadian Open this week.Credit: Getty
Some of LIV’s 48-man roster has played Asian Tour events in between its 14-tournament league to earn valuable rankings points.
LIV has been blocked from official status, meaning its biggest stars such as Smith, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau have slid down the world rankings.
The South Australian government, which has a four-year deal with LIV to host an event each year in Adelaide, has sought reassurances its contract is still in place after the success of its first tournament at The Grange Golf Club.
LIV is yet to announce its schedule for the 2024 season.
LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman told about 100 staff on a call the concept wouldn’t be going anywhere despite doubts about how the new entity plans to run world golf.
“The spigot is now wide open for commercial sponsorships, blue-chip companies, TV networks,” Norman told staffers, according to remarks reported by Sports Illustrated.
“LIV is and will continue to be a standalone enterprise. Our business model will not change. We changed history and we’re not going anywhere.”
But PGA Tour loyalist Rory McIlroy, LIV’s most outspoken critic, said he “fully expects” the 54-hole, shotgun start events to be phased out.
“I still hate LIV — like, I hate LIV,” McIlroy said. “I hope it goes away. And I would fully expect that it does. And I think that’s where the distinction here is.”
The Northern Irishman made his first comments on the shock announcement before he tries to win the Canadian Open for a third straight year.
McIlroy and Tiger Woods were even unaware of the agreement, which ends litigation between LIV and the PGA Tour, until hours before it was announced.
“It’s hard for me to not sit up here and feel somewhat like a sacrificial lamb, and feeling like I’ve put myself out there and this is what happens,” McIlroy said. “Again, removing myself from the situation, I see how this is better for the game of golf. There’s no denying that.”
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