The Asian Tour, the official sanctioning body for professional golf in the region, will mark a milestone 10th season in 2013 with the unveiling of a commemorative logo and a 10-year vision for Asian golf.
Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han and Chief Executive Officer Mike Kerr unveiled the celebratory Asian Tour logo in a press launch here today which symbolises "10 Years of Excellence" and the official tagline, "The Players' Tour".
Launched as a player-led organisation in 2004 and structured similarly to the PGA Tour and European Tour, the Asian Tour has succeeded in enhancing the careers of golfers across the region through the staging of 239 tournaments and a staggering US$290 million in combined prize funds up till the end of last season.
Over 30 Asian Tour players have earned in excess of US$1 million in winnings over the past nine years.
Han, one of the key guiding hands during the formation of the Asian Tour, said: "2013 will herald a new and exciting chapter for the Asian Tour as we enter our 10th season as a player-led organisation.
"Through the support of our partners and stakeholders who include Asia's elite players, Corporate Asia, event promoters and golf clubs, the Asian Tour has enjoyed a memorable journey over the past nine years and we look forward to our 10th season with great anticipation and excitement.
"Throughout this journey, we have celebrated many great champions, welcomed our first Asian male Major winner in Y.E. Yang, written new chapters in our history books and shaped the careers of our members, many of whom are now world-class stars. They include the likes of K.J. Choi, Thongchai Jaidee, Arjun Atwal, Jeev Milkha Singh, Charlie Wi, Noh Seung-yul and Thaworn Wiratchant, just to name a few.
"In our inaugural season, we offered US$12.3 million in total prize money while last year, we offered US$44.5 million which reflects wonderfully on the growing strength of our Tour. We will continue to focus primarily on the careers of our members, hence our commemorative logo will reflect our core value that will define the Asian Tour is by the players and for the players.
"Additionally, the Asian Tour is now televised globally through our TV arm, Asian Tour Media. As the Asian Tour holds ownership of our TV rights, our programmes, which include the Live Broadcast, Highlights Show and Asian Tour Golf Show, reach over 200 countries and 650 million homes which have increased our profile internationally and generated greater benefits to our partners and sponsors."
Han was also delighted with the success of the burgeoning Asian Development Tour (ADT), the secondary circuit run by the Asian Tour. It has grown from an initial five tournaments in 2010 to 13 last season. From 2013 onwards, all ADT events will receive Official World Golf Ranking points.
Throughout the 2013 season, which kicks off next week with the staging of the Zaykabar Myanmar Open presented by Alpine, Han said the Asian Tour will celebrate its landmark season with various promotions and activities, including contests on the Tour’s social media platform for golf fans.
Looking into the future, Kerr, who joined the Asian Tour as CEO last March, subsequently outlined the Tour's vision for the next decade. The 10-year vision is as follows:
By 2023, Asian Tour members will compete for well over US$100 million a year through a full season of 38 to 39 events;
All major markets in Asia, including Vietnam, Brunei and Cambodia, will be represented with players and as host nations on the Asian Tour;
The Asian Tour will be represented by more than 10 members at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, with the Tour to produce one medal winner by the 2020 Olympics;
By 2023, Asians will make up three to four players of the world's top 10;
Within the next decade, the Asian Tour will produce at least three winners at golf’s Majors;
A new innovative shorter form of the game will complement the 'standard 72-hole, four-day tournament' on the Asian Tour's professional circuit;
Through development of young talent at schools and through specific training academies, professional golf in Asia will be dominated by young Asian players;
The next 'golf celebrity' will be a young Asian playing on the Asian Tour.
Kerr said: "The foundation and fundamentals of the Asian Tour represent a very strong platform from which we are poised to grow. We are therefore delighted to outline our 10-year vision, in which I have every confidence.
"With the shift of the global economy East, coupled with the growing popularity of golf in Asia, we have every belief the Asian Tour will continue to develop over the next 10 years through the sustainable growth of existing tournaments and the expansion of the Tour into new markets."
Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant, the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion and holder of a record 15 titles, was amongst the many players and international officials who congratulated the Tour for reaching a new milestone.
"I can say that the Asian Tour is my home Tour. I was born on this Tour. It made me stay relevant in my career. I have learned from this Tour and I can survive because of this Tour. I have a good reputation when I represent the Asian Tour - my life has changed in a good way every year. Ten years have passed so quickly. But we can see the development of the Tour from the number of members, number of events and the prize money," said Thaworn.
Golf's leading officials also offered messages of congratulation to the Asian Tour.
European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady said: "I would like to pay my tribute to the Asian Tour. Congratulations for achieving the 10-year milestone and for everything you’ve done to unite the game in Asia and to inspire many great young talents.
"I think the Asian Tour has done everything they can to unite the game in the region and bring together all talented golfers in different countries to make up the Tour. You will see its tremendous achievements and impact on Asia."
O'Grady's sentiments were echoed by Ed Moorehouse, Co-Chief Operating Officer of the PGA Tour. Moorehouse said: "The Asian Tour has grown from a minor tour to a significant force that it is in Asia today. I go around Asia and talk to some of the companies which we do business with in the States and they have some of the arrangements with the Asian Tour, and everyone is saying that it's developing into a very good Tour.
"I would like to congratulate the Asian Tour. I think they have grown significantly in the past 10 years. They have developed a lot of good tournaments and co-sanctioned tournaments with us. We have a great relationship with the Asian Tour. They have a great partnership with the European Tour as well. Development has been really tremendous for the Asian Tour.
"Congratulations to Kyi Hla Han and his group for really making the Asian Tour a significant force in the world of golf. I think the Asian Tour is very important in development the game of golf in the region."