The launch of a new 10-tournament series on the Asian Tour that looks set to draw in players from all the major global tours has been announced.
Details of which players have agreed to play in the tournaments, or where they will be staged, has yet to be announced, but the series is timetabled to begin next Spring.
Greg Norman has been appointed CEO of a new company called LIV Golf Investments, with the 66-year-old golfing icon set fulfil the role of commissioner of what will be a league headlined by a group of the top-ranked players in the game.
The first initiative of LIV Golf Investments, whose majority shareholder is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, has been to form a new partnership with the Asian Tour, investing more than $200 million to support and promote a new 10-tournament series that will be added to the Asian Tour schedule from 2022 onward, with new events across Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
“To me, Asia is the most untapped, underused tour I’ve ever seen in my life,’’ said Norman, who has announced that he is stepping away from some of own company’s interests to focus on the new venture. “This is only the beginning. The Asian Tour is a sleeping giant and we share ambition to grow the series and unlock what we believe is significant untapped potential. We see our promotion of these new events as a vital first step in supporting emerging markets, creating a new platform, rich with playing opportunities that create valuable player pathways.”
Cho Minn Thant, commissioner and CEO of the Asian Tour, said: “This is the single biggest development in the history of the Asian Tour and a major milestone for professional golf. The opportunity will secure unprecedented new playing opportunities, establish new player pathways, allow us to compete commercially with other sports, and enhance our social agenda.“We are particularly excited at the prospect today’s landmark announcement brings to the amateur game, providing new inspiration to aspiring players through a new level of top-flight professional competition in the region.”
The 10-tournament series will add to the Asian Tour’s backbone of established events to comprise a 25-event season, expected to represent a record-breaking combined prize-fund in 2022. Each of the 10 new events will be broadcast live across the globe, with plans to attract an international field of headline talent through an open eligibility category regardless of Tour affiliation so opportunities are available to the broadest cross section of players.
Today’s announcement closely follows the striking of a new 10-year partnership between the Asian Tour and Golf Saudi, the organisers of the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers, which will see the event become the flagship tournament on the Asian Tour, featuring an impressive increased prize fund of $5m. The Saudi International will not be one of the 10 new events to feature as part of the new series but will itself provide enhanced exemption requirements.