Spieth Will Need Extra Day To Go For Coveted Sing Open Crown

Jordan Spieth's quest to be the historic Singapore Open's first winner after the event took a three year world tour of Europe, Scandinavia and the sub-continent, now spills into Monday after yet another weather delay. Spieth had an 18th hole putt remaining when the horn sounded.

As the Asian Tour's game story notes, Spieth's last hole putt could put more pressure on leader Younghan Song, World No. 204 seeking his first win. Also in the mix is World No. 199 Liang Wen-chong and World No. 1030 Masanori Kobayashi, whose name reminded the television announce team of Keyser Soze.

The storylines! The drama!

On a serious note, at least the exhausted Spieth gets one more night in his Singapore bed, followed by one more day to discuss with agent-turned-caddy-this-week, Jay Danzi, the joys international travel in your run-up to the Masters title defense.

The almost-completed fourth round highlights from Golf Channel, if you're so inclined.

"Economic uncertainty hits Asian golf"

As the playoff extravaganza winds down and the massive audiences take in one more week of PGA Tour golf before turning their attention to football and baseball, Asia will soon come into focus with a few big events on the various tours.

An unbylined APF story looks at the suddenly less prosperous times in Asian professional golf.

Asia's end-of-year golf round remains studded with lucrative, imported events, including the CIMB Classic, BMW Masters, WGC-HSBC Champions and the World Cup, offering combined prize money of more than $30 million.

But with about 20 international events scheduled across the Asia-Pacific region in the last few months of this year, it's no surprise that some are crowded out.

The Singapore Open, previously billed as 'Asia's major' and with a $6 million purse last year, is the glaring omission from this year's schedule. Its promoters are promising it will return next season, but the date, venue and sponsor are all unknown.

Meanwhile India's European Tour-sanctioned Avantha Masters has been shelved after its main sponsor withdrew due to the "current economic condition", including a plunging rupee.

And the Hong Kong Open, long a cornerstone of Asian golf, is without a sponsor and is relying on government funds to help pay its prize money.

"11. Four Chinese players"

They finally got around to satisfying IMG's deal points to announcing the WGC-HSBC event in China and the field qualifications offer what I think may be a couple of buried ledes:

3. Winners from 23 PGA TOUR cosponsored events in 2009, which shall be identified as those 23 PGA TOUR events from 2008 with the highest Official World Golf Ranking Strength of Field Rating, having a rating of 40 points or more.

Bear with me. First this:

11. Four Chinese players

And? Nothing else? Just "Four Chinese Players" as a category?

So stringent!

Alright here's what I found interesting:

13. If necessary to fill the field to 78 players, additional Tournament Winners from the 2008 HSBC Champions through the event preceding the 2009 WGC-HSBC Champions, which shall be identified as those winners of events from the 2007 HSBC Champions to the 2008 HSBC Champions with the highest Official World Golf Ranking Strength of Field Rating, having a rating of 40 points or more, not listed in an above category:

2008/2009 Events    Winner
Bob Hope Chrysler Classic     Perez, Pat
Buick Open
Justin Timberlake Classic
John Deere Classic
Wyndham Championship
RBC Canadian Open
Fry's.com Open
Valero Texas Open
Turning Stone Resort Champ.
Casio World Open           Oda, Koumei
Viking Classic
BMW Italian Open
Madrid Masters
Estoril Open de Portugal           Hoey, Michael
Mitsubishi Diamond
US Bank Championship
Munsingwwear Open
Japan Tour Championship

World Ranking gurus out there, I'm wondering if this is the first time that the line has been so publicly drawn with event winners needing to come from events "having a rating of 40 points or more?"

If so, seems it could set an interesting precedent for other world events or majors?

"Asian Tour players are concerned second- tier events would perish or offer lower prize money"

Bloomberg's Grant Clark writes that the "Super Tour" plan between the Japan, Australiasia and Asian Tours may hinge on the survival of second-tier Asian Tour events.

If nothing else, this is quite an interesting contrast to the PGA Tour's concern for its second-tier events and especially the Fall Finish, which seems doomed to the apparent dismay of no one with any power.

Japanese and Australian officials reached an agreement to form the ``OneAsia Tour'' from 2009 and are in talks to persuade the player-run Asian Tour and four national circuits to sign up.

Under the plan, the existing tours would act as feeders to the new circuit, which would consist of elite events most weekends of the year. Asian Tour players are concerned second- tier events would perish or offer lower prize money, Han said.

``The OneAsia Tour is worth considering,'' Han said in a phone interview from Bangkok today. ``I'd like to pursue it but I have to make sure the backbone of the tour is sustainable.''

The Japan Golf Tour Organization and the PGA Tour of Australasia signed a memorandum of understanding in October to create the new circuit, which would include the cream of the current events as well as new tournaments. Tours in China, South Korea, Thailand and India may also sign up.

Andy Yamanaka, chief secretary of the Japanese golf ruling body, said the Asian Tour is ``very, very important'' for the viability of the new circuit. Han's task is complicated because his circuit spans multiple countries and golf bodies, he said.

``At this stage, we believe they will be joining us,'' Yamanaka said in an interview from Tokyo. ``A 2009 start may be difficult but it's important for everyone to keep talking.''

The Asian Tour held a meeting in Bangkok two days ago to discuss the plan and the players ``didn't take to it,'' according to Unho Park, a Singapore-based Australian ranked 27th on the money list.

This sounds familiar:

``OneAsia would only benefit the top 20 players,'' Park said by telephone from Bangkok. ``Japan and Australia know the market is Asia so they want a piece of the pie. The players think the Asian Tour can do it by itself.''

And this is fascinating:

``Australia hasn't got much to offer,'' added Simon Yates, a Scot ranked fifth on Asia's money list, in an e-mail response. ``Japan's losing tournaments to the women's tour, which isn't a good sign.''

"And if it's not top of the list for the players, it is for their managers"

Nick Mulvenney talks to Mission Hills' David Chu about the World Cup and the resort. Chu is one of the founders of the massive resort, which aspires to be the Augusta of China. Really...

The Mission Hills Golf Club is hoping to become synonymous with the World Cup by building up a tradition like that surrounding the U.S. Masters and its Augusta National venue.

The World Cup has already had a varied history since Canadian industrialist John Hopkins founded it as "an Olympiad of golf" in 1953 but its home for the next dozen years will be the $650-million complex hewn out of the hills of southern China.

Since the first 18 holes were completed in 1994, 11 more international standard courses have been built in the resort with a list of designers that reads like a "Who's Who" of international golf -- Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, David Duval.

And some of them have even been there!


However, it was the heavily bunkered Olazabal course that hosted the 53rd World Cup at the weekend and that is where it is likely to stay for the forseeable future, according to Tenniel Chu, son of the founding father of Mission Hills, Dr David Chu.

"We have the luxury to play on a different course each year but at the same time, what we want to try and create is somewhat similar to what Augusta has done," the resort's executive director told Reuters in an interview.

"Every year, same course, same venue, same time. For the audience watching around the world, they will grow familiar with it and become emotionally attached to it."

Uh huh...

"But I think as the game is growing here, there is more interest in coming to China. The next frontier for players is to come and showcase themselves is Asia.

"They've more or less hit the ceiling in Europe and North America. And in areas like sponsorship or course design, China is definitely top of the list.

"And if it's not top of the list for the players, it is for their managers," he laughed.

"The news of an alliance between the Japanese, Asian and Australasian Tours should be another warning to O’Grady."

Alistair Tait points out why the possible union of the Japanese, Asian and Australasian Tours could create a strong rival to the European Tour, when they really all could have been working together. But Lewine Mair reports that everyone may be getting along better soon.