Asian Tour back on the tee after 20 months — boosted by Norman’s millions

Asian Tour back on tee after 20 months — boosted by Norman’s millions
Asian Tour back on tee after 20 months — boosted by Norman’s millions
Asian Tour back on the tee after 20 months — boosted by Norman’s millions

The Asian Tour returns to Thailand this week after a 20-month hiatus, boosted by a $200 million cash injection from Australian legend Greg Norman into ten new lucrative tournaments beginning next year.

The $1 million Blue Canyon Championship, which begins on Thursday on the idyllic Thai island of Phuket, will be the first Asian Tour event since the Malaysian Open on March 7, 2020.

The resumption comes just weeks after Norman shook up the golf world by announcing his new Saudi-backed series of ten events beginning in 2022, sparking speculation that it could be the first step towards the Great White Shark’s oft-mentioned dream of a golf “super league.”

Cho Minn Thant, Asian Tour Commissioner, and CEO insist Norman’s move is not a takeover of the circuit and that his priority is to complete the 2019-2020 season, which was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This week will help us finally begin the process of completing our season after the most difficult period in our history,” Cho told

Wade Ormsby of Australia has led the order of merit since winning the Hong Kong Open in January 2020.

He will lead a strong field for back-to-back events in Phuket, including home favorite Jazz Janewattananond and American John Catlin.

On Sunday, he finished in the top ten of the $9 million DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Jazz, the 2019 order of merit champions, will be joined in the 144-player field by Asian Tour luminaries such as Scott Hend of Australia and Shiv Kapur of India.

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‘Most lucrative season’

The Laguna Phuket Championship will be held next week, followed by two more $1 million events in Singapore in January to cap off the longest season in Asian Tour history.

Both Thai events will be played in a “bubble” environment with no spectators, and competitors must be fully vaccinated to compete.

Resuming play in Asia had been complicated by the differences in Covid rules between countries.

Thailand, on the other hand, relaxed its strict quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated visitors, allowing the Tour to hold back-to-back tournaments in Phuket.

The schedule for the 2022 season has not yet been announced, but it will begin with the $5 million Saudi International in early February, which is not part of the 10-event series funded by Norman’s LIV Golf Investments.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, owns the majority of the company, which was responsible for the recent takeover of Premier League football club Newcastle United.

The Gulf kingdom’s foray into sports has sparked accusations of “sports washing,” or buying positive publicity to distract attention away from its human rights record.

However, Cho stated that the new partnership would assist the Asian Tour in stabilizing and recovering from the effects of the covid shutdown.

“Having ten tournaments with prize money exceeding $1 million each has essentially never been seen on the Asian Tour,” Cho told AFP.

“It’s very likely that this will be the most profitable season for the Asian Tour.”

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