A 20 year old tradition of International professional tournaments held in India having the sanction of the domestic body Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), has hit a roadblock with PGTI being stopped from co sanctioning tournaments like the upcoming Delhi GC Open in March with the Asian Tour due to its recent agreement with the European and PGA Tours. In the past, tournaments like the Indian Open, the Panasonic Open and others, which gave us stars like Anirban Lahiri, Shubhankar Sharma, SSP Chawrasia and many more were always co sanctioned between Asia and India, giving equal opportunities to players on both tours.
With the PGTI’s recent signing with the European & USPGA Tours, the co-sanctioning of tournaments with the Asian Tour has been barred. So the DGC Open, which was launched just last year will be sanctioned by the Asian Tour alone.
On the other hand, the Hero Indian Open, scheduled for February which in the past has been tri sanctioned by Europe, Asia and India will not have the Asian Tour as a sanctioning partner this year.
Uttam Mundy, CEO, PGTI, in a recent interview with News9Live clarified, “We cannot sanction any Asian Tour event. The deal we signed with the DP World Tour stops us from having any partnership with the continental Tour. But our players are free to go and play in Asian Tour events as we have had a very good relationship with them. That’s a gesture of respect between the Tours.”
However, it remains to be seen how many Indians finally can participate in the DGC Open and although PGTI has made big commercial gains thanks to their European Tour agreement, the loss of their long standing Asian Tour relationship is indeed an unfortunate development for the sport.
The background to this is the Asian Tour receiving big funding from the Saudi Fund, which is also backing the LIV Golf tour which is embroiled in a bitter legal battle with the European Tour. Hence the European Tour has signed agreements with the Indian and Korean domestic tours in order to isolate the Asian Tour.
How this situation unfolds and how it affects Indian golf in the long run remains to be seen.
Photo – Asian Tour