Seoul, Korea: The European Tour’s tentacles continue to spread into Asia.
Emboldened by its formal tie-up with the Asian Tour, the European body has now announced a Strategic Alliance with the Korea Professional Golfers’ Association (KPGA) ‘which will see the two organisations co-operate closely on the development of the professional game in Korea’.
The Alliance formalises the growing relationship between the two associations following the opening of a Korean office last year, and is expected to help create new opportunities for young professional players in a country which has experienced a rapid rise in golfing success in the last two decades.
Earlier this year, the European Tour announced a Strategic Alliance with the PGA Tour of Australasia. Its Alliance with the Asian Tour was announced in 2016 and will see the two Tours jointly-sanction six events in the 2017 season.
Much like those Alliances, the European Tour said it will now work with the KPGA towards combining marketing and commercial resources to help grow the game in the region through the development of players, potential new tournaments and the reach of the game of golf at grass-roots level.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “We are delighted to welcome the KPGA as partners of the European Tour through this Strategic Alliance.
“We have seen through our Alliances with the Asian Tour and the PGA of Australasia that this is a model of growth and development which is hugely positive and mutually beneficial for all parties.
“Korean players have been very successful on the European Tour down the years and that is evident by the fact that two of the past three Sir Henry Cotton Rookies of the Year have been Korean. The rapid growth of golf there has been incredible so it is an important step for both Tours to align like this.”
Yang Hwee-boo, Chairman of the KPGA, said: “We are delighted to begin this Alliance with the European Tour and with the fantastic opportunities this agreement will present for our Korean Tour players on the global stage.
“I truly believe that this is a big step in the right direction for both organisations and will play a crucial part in the development of the game of golf in this region.”
Currently there are four European Tour members from Korea – former BMW PGA champion An Byeong-hun, 2016 Shenzhen International champion Lee Soo-min, three-time European Tour winner and 2016 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Wang Jeung-hun and former US PGA champion YE Yang.
Yang made history in 2009 when he became the first Asian winner of a Major championship by overcoming a two-shot deficit to finish three strokes clear of Tiger Woods.
Meanwhile, 13 of the last 31 Major championship victories in the women’s game have come from Korean players, with Park In-bee dominating in recent years – winning seven Majors since 2008.
The European Tour has visited Korean shores on six occasions for the Ballantine’s Championship, which has a strong list of former winners – Brett Rumford (2013), Bernd Wiesberger (2012), Lee Westwood (2011), Marcus Fraser (2010), Thongchai Jaidee (2009) and Graeme McDowell (2008).
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