Golf legend Greg Norman said on Saturday the OneAsia Tour offered a tremendous opportunity to develop golf throughout Asia as it approached its first anniversary.
OneAsia was launched last January, bringing together Tours from China, South Korea and Australia with a vision to offer an alternative playing platform to the US PGA and European Tours.
The fledgling circuit has its critics, with the influential Japan Golf Tour choosing not to join, while it is at loggerheads with the Asian Tour, which has accused it of stealing tournaments.
But Norman, 54, who is recovering from recent shoulder surgery, put in an appearance at the OneAsia-sanctioned Australian Open at the New South Wales Golf Club on Saturday and voiced his support for OneAsia's future growth. “I think it's a tremendous opportunity,” Norman told a press conference.
“You can see where OneAsia is happening in this part of the world, it's so logical and it's starting to develop right now and I think it's great.”A 29-strong contingent from the Korean Tour, including five players in the top 15 on the Order of Merit, and 10 Chinese golfers are playing in this week's Open and at next week's Australian PGA Championship at Coolum. Both tournaments are part of the OneAsia circuit.
OneAsia announced last month an expanded schedule of 11 events in 2010, all with at least one million US dollars in prize money, up from five tournaments in its first season. More are expected to be added.
But OneAsia is encountering stiff opposition from the Asian Tour, which has banned a handful of players who took part in its rival's events.
OneAsia's Australian chief executive Ben Sellenger said last month he was disappointed at the Asian Tour's attitude and said talks were under way with golf associations across Asia to host new tournaments, including in Malaysia, Indonesia, India and Taiwan.