Hong Kong - Asian Tour chief executive Mike
Kerr has resigned, the body revealed on Monday, at a time of high uncertainty
with negotiations underway for a merger with the European Tour.
Kerr's position had been rumoured to be in
jeopardy since the tour's players held a meeting at the Macau Open in October,
where they voiced disquiet about the proposed creation of a mega-tour
straddling the two continents and his handling of the merger.
A statement released said: "The Asian
Tour has announced that its CEO Mike Kerr has left the organisation after
three-and-a-half years in the role."
No reason was given for the departure of
the former senior executive at the ESPN STAR Sports TV channel, and the
statement did not say whether he would be replaced.
The merger proposal has prompted fears from
some players that it would lead to diminished playing opportunities and that
they could be squeezed out by the bigger, more powerful European Tour.
"We are waiting still for our concerns
to be addressed," Asian Tour elder statesman Thongchai Jaidee said last
month when asked about the meeting in Macau.
But European Tour CEO Keith Pelley revealed
in Dubai recently that he had also met the players in Macau, and they had given
the green light to continue negotiations.
"I went over to Macau to spoke to the
Asian Tour members for close to an hour," said Pelley.
"Shortly thereafter, there was a vote
that was a positive vote for them to continue to give their board authorisation
to continue with the negotiation," he told a press conference at the DP
World Tour Championship last month.
But Pelley conceded there were players who
were hostile to the move.
"I had correspondence over the last 24
hours with a critical member from the Asian Tour about the different
opportunities," he said.
But the picture remains far from clear now
with Kerr, tasked with pushing the merger through on the Asian side, now gone.
"Our next conversations are going to
be with key player representatives from the respective regions," said
Kerr had seemed upbeat when speaking at a golf business forum in Shanghai last month, claiming he had allayed
"We have addressed their fears in the
way we have structured the partnership," said Kerr. "What I can say
very confidently is that no Asian professional is going to lose any
Thailand star Kiradech Aphibarnrat said
while he had been happy with the way the Northern Irishman had conducted the
negotiations, others were not.
"Some players are not happy with Mike
Kerr. Some players are happy with Mike Kerr," Kiradech said at last
month's BMW Masters. "For me he is the businessman. He gets things done.
He is a good guy."
Asian Tour chairperson Kyi Hla Han paid
tribute to Kerr's achievements since taking over in 2012.
"During his tenure, Mike introduced a
more corporate direction to the tour and enhanced the structure of the
management team." Han said in a statement.
"We would like to thank Mike for his
contribution and wish him well."