The Asian Tour has released the first part of its 2018 season schedule in what promises to be the most robust year of playing opportunities for its members since 2008.
The 2018 schedule will feature at least six new tournaments with two events added in Korea, the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open, the Philippine Golf Championship and a minimum of two tournaments planned in China.
In the first five months of 2018, the Asian Tour will be staging 12 events across 11 countries. This is two more than the 10 events held in 2017, over the same period.
The 2018 Asian Tour season tees off in Thailand, where the annual Qualifying School will be held. At the end of the event, the top-35 finishers and ties will earn Asian Tour cards. At the same time, 12 of Asia’s leading players will represent Team Asia against Team Europe in Malaysia at the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM which will be played at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club.
This biennial event is a team match-play tournament which boasts a massive US$4.8 million purse and is the Asian Tour and European Tour’s cousin event of Ryder Cup.
In the previous edition, Team Europe won the contest in dominant fashion while Team Asia forced a dramatic 10-10 draw in the first edition in 2014. Come January 2018, Team Asia, captained by Arjun Atwal, will be looking to exact revenge against a strong European team, led by Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn. The EurAsia Cup will be hosted at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur from January 12 to 14.
Also in January, the top players from the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour will be competing for a US$1 million purse at the SMBC Singapore Open. The star-studded field will include Masters Tournament winner, Sergio Garcia.
Next, the circuit heads to Myanmar for the US$750,000 LeoPalace21 Myanmar Open which is the second consecutive co-sanctioned tournament between the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour, before heading southward to Malaysia for the lucrative US$3 million Maybank Championship.
The Tour will swing over to Oceania for two events at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth and the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open, a new addition to the Asian Tour schedule.
Members from the Asian Tour will be competing at the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open and prize money earned will count towards the Asian Tour Order of Merit race. The tournament will be the first on the Asian Tour that is played over a pro-am format, contested by top professional golfers, amateurs, as well as celebrity players.
Following New Zealand, the Asian Tour will head to South Asia for the US$1.75 million Indian Open. The following week, the Asian Tour will welcome another new tournament to its schedule, the US$1.5 million Philippine Golf Championship.
This tournament, as well as the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth, Maybank Championship and Indian Open, are co-sanctioned with the European Tour. A significant number of co-sanctioned tournaments have been planned for the rest of the year, reinforcing the Strategic Alliance between the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Then from mid-April to early May, the Asian Tour features an East Asian swing to Chinese Taipei, Japan and Korea.
The Yeangder Heritage is a full-field Asian Tour event held in Chinese Taipei with a prize purse of US$300,000. The following week sees the Asian Tour touchdown in the Land of the Rising Sun for the Panasonic Open Championship. This tournament offers ¥150 million (approximately US$1.35 million) and is the finale of the Panasonic Swing, an aggregate points race that spans five events – in Thailand, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan. Asian Tour players have an opportunity to shoot for a share of the lucrative bonus pool of a further US$150,000.
Rounding off this first part of the season, the Asian Tour travels to Korea in the first week of May for the prestigious GS Caltex Maekyung Open. The tournament has a storied 37-year history and offers a ₩1 billion purse (approximately US$920,000).
A Robust Second Half
The Asian Tour expects to ride the momentum into the latter half of 2018 with a stronger schedule over the previous year. The optimism is backed by several tournaments in development as well as co-sanctioning agreements already in place with the European Tour, JGTO, China Tour, Korea Golf Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia and the Sunshine Tour.
The ambition is to create more full-field Asian Tour events in parallel with the growing number of co-sanctioned tournaments. Apart from the Asian Tour’s traditional full-field events in Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and India, the Tour is aiming to create more full-field tournaments in countries across Asia. Most notably, a minimum of two events are planned for China in 2018.