Chon Buri - European Tour veteran Thomas
Bjorn has described a proposed merger with the Asian Tour as "the only way
forward", despite concern among some Asian players.
Bjorn, who is chairperson of the European
Tour's tournament committee which represents players' interests, said Asian
players shouldn't worry about losing playing opportunities if the mega-tour
The proposal to combine the tours' business
dealings and memberships could be a game-changer, but some Asian players are
concerned about being squeezed out by European stars.
However, Bjorn said the plan provided a
great opportunity for Asian pros - and denied that Europe was trying to take
over tournaments in the region.
"A merger is the only way
forward," Bjorn said at the Thailand Golf Championship, which finished on
"I appreciate some of the (Asian Tour)
players are concerned, but they will actually benefit from it... It will
provide a great opportunity for the young Asian players."
The merger talks have coincided with a
shake-up at the Asian Tour, where CEO Mike Kerr's resignation was announced
without explanation last week.
The body's board has also seen a change in
personnel, although the Asian Tour has not responded to requests for
confirmation when approached for comment.
When asked about the merger situation,
Indian veteran Jeev Milkha Singh said in Thailand: "We have a new board
and we will wait to see what they recommend."
Bjorn said a merged tour would be
particularly good for younger players, who will benefit from tougher
competition and the chance to play in Europe.
Including the four majors and four World
Golf Championship events, the European Tour listed 48 tournaments on the 2015
season's schedule, while the Asian Tour had 28.
The two tours have a long history of
cooperation, including co-sanctioning five tournaments in Asia this year.
"Talented Asian players like Thongchai
(Jaidee) and Jeev had to change their style of play when they joined the
European Tour," Bjorn said.
"They had to learn the hard way, but
eventually they adapted because they are talented and they have done very well.
A merger would speed up that process."
Bjorn added: "There is so much great
talent in Asia with lots of young players coming through. If the young players
join a combined tour they will learn a lot quicker. It will be great for
European Tour CEO Keith Pelley, who is
spearheading the merger, flew to Macau in October to address a meeting of Asian
Tour players. He later conceded some players are hostile, although negotiations
But Bjorn stressed: "The European Tour
are not trying to take over tournaments. We have a full schedule as it is. But
the combined efforts of the two tours would make it very strong.
"Let's get it together," added
the Dane. It will be good for all players concerned, both on the European and
"The Asian Tour players need not
worry. It's the only way forward," he said.