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The Asian Tour recently unveiled details of 'The International Series' for 2022/23, which features 10 tournaments across Asia and Europe. Working with LIV Golf Investments, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund-backed company is headed by Greg Norman. It brings an exciting time for the Asian Tour, with their CEO, Cho Minn Thant, describing the move as a "new era for Asian golf".
Joining the Asian Tour in 2007, Cho has held numerous positions within the organisation before assuming the role of Chief Operating Officer in October 2016. Three years later, he would be promoted to CEO.
Working closely with the Chairman and Board of Directors, Cho is in charge of leading the strategic direction of the Asian Tour, with his primary responsibilities, since 2019, being the tournament schedule, commercial development and overall management of International Federation matters.
And now, after the recent announcement of 'The International Series', it seems that the Tour is stepping in the right direction, with a $300 million investment and a 10-year alliance securing a strong-looking future.
“We are on the threshold of a new era for Asian golf,” says Cho. “The International Series is a new upper-tier of elite events, the likes of which the region has not seen before, that will mark the start of a phenomenal period of growth for the Asian Tour.
“Importantly, The International Series will add to the Asian Tour’s backbone of established events to comprise a 25-event season, expected to represent a record-breaking combined prize-fund. Each of the 10 events will be broadcast live across the globe, with plans to attract an international field of headline talent.”
It hasn't been plain-sailing for the Asian Tour and Cho. Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the circuit suspended all tournaments for 18 months and only completed its 2020 season at the beginning of 2022. As a result, it is still yet to publish its full 2022 schedule owing to uncertainty over when countries will ease entry restrictions.
“As a business it was very frustrating. We were just burning through our reserves,” says Cho. “I wouldn’t say it was dire but we weren’t in a great financial position.”
However, with the Tour getting back on its feet, Cho says he is focused on growing the game in his continent: “I think we’ll just try to build the level of golf in Asia,” he concludes. “We want to bring high level golf to Asia more often, and it may not be every single week like it is on the PGA Tour, but on a few occasions a year we’d like to see that.”
Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
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