Seoul, South Korea: While negotiations regarding a formal tie-up with the Asian Tour continue, the European Tour’s expansion into the region shows no signs of abating.
Not content with boasting offices in Hong Kong and Beijing, a South Korean office has been opened ‘to help to grow the game of golf in the country and further develop the European Tour’s global brand’.
Located in the same building as Korean Professional Golfers Association (KPGA) in Seoul, the office launch has been overseen by Ben Cowen, the European Tour’s new Director of International Policy.
Cowen previously held the position of Deputy Director of International Policy under Keith Waters, who will now focus solely on his role as the European Tour’s Chief Operating Officer.
The South Korea office will be managed by BJ Song, currently of the KPGA, who will report directly to Cowen. He will work alongside the KPGA to develop the European Tour business in Korea, with the aim of reintroducing an event on the Race to Dubai – the country having previously hosted the Ballantine’s Championship for six consecutive seasons from 2008-2013.
Koreans Lee Soo-min and Wang Jeung-hun recently won three European Tour events between them in the space of four weeks while world number 27 An Byeong-hun returned to Wentworth Club last week, where the European Tour has its headquarters, to defend his title at the BMW PGA Championship.
Song is looking to build on the success of this trio on the global stage as well as the achievements of other Korean players on the European Tour, including YE Yang, who in 2009 became Asia’s first Major champion when he held off Tiger Woods to win the US PGA Championship.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “The launch of our new South Korea office could not have been more impeccably timed following Lee Soo-min’s victory in Shenzhen and Wang Jeung-hun’s back-to-back wins in Morocco and Mauritius which took Korea’s total number of wins on the European Tour to 11.
“With the global achievements of other Korean players such as An Byeong-hun, we are seeing men’s golf in Korea starting to replicate the success of the female game and we are keen to help grow the game in the country, working alongside the KPGA.
“Similarly, we are also hoping to develop the European Tour brand in this important market. It is three years since we last staged an event in Korea and our new office in Seoul will be tasked with looking into business opportunities in Korea to help us host another event in the near future.”