Golf: Asian, European Tour hit back at Royal Trophy

Golf: Asian, European Tour hit back at Royal Trophy
Team Europe's Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark tees off during the EurAsia Cup, at Glenamarie Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR - The war of words over the controversial EurAsia Cup golf competition rumbled on Friday with its organisers, the Asian and European Tours, insisting the latest Ryder Cup-style event would benefit the sport.

The retort followed a harsh dressing-down issued the day before by the organisers of the Royal Tropy, a similar Europe v Asia event launched in 2006, which called the new EurAsia cup an "act of aggression" by the two tours, and an "extremely negative development" for golf.

European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady and Asian Tour Chairman Kyi Hla Han said in a statement that they "regret" the comments made Thursday by Royal Trophy co-managing director Ivan Ballesteros.

"The EurAsia Cup offers The European Tour and the Asian Tour an opportunity to further develop the game of golf," they said.

They noted the benefits that have accrued to the sport through the Ryder Cup, the popular regional battle between teams of European and American golfers.

The statement also noted that while the two tours no longer sanctioned the Royal Trophy, they have "been respectful to and supportive" of it, releasing players for the competition even when it clashed with tour events.

The EurAsia Cup kicked off Thursday at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur.

The tournament has become the latest skirmish in the battle for control of Asian golf, between the Asian Tour and its rival OneAsia, which supports the Royal Trophy and has been holding tournaments in the region since 2009.

The late Spanish golfing great Seve Ballesteros - Ivan's uncle - was a leading advocate for the establishment of the Royal Trophy.

In a verbal assault that was scathing by the standards of any sport, let alone the clubby world of golf, Ivan Ballesteros had accused the European and Asian Tours of acting against his late uncle's wishes.

In a statement, he said the EurAsia Cup undermined the Royal Trophy, violating the spirit of an earlier agreement to respect the older competition.

But the statement by the tour chiefs noted that the Seve Ballesteros Foundation, run by the golfer's children and heirs, "fully supports the EurAsia Cup through its position as Official Charity."

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