Asian Tour to add event to help players qualify for Olympics, Latest Golf News - The New Paper

Asian Tour to add event to help players qualify for Olympics

MACAU – The Asian Tour wants to add a lucrative event before June to help its players qualify for this summer’s Paris Olympics, the head of the tour’s International Series said on March 13.

Rahul Singh was speaking ahead of this week’s International Series Macau, where players are chasing a US$2 million (S$2.7 million) prize fund and all-important ranking points.

Only 60 players will reach Paris 2024 and with most countries having a maximum of two places, competition is fierce before the Olympic Golf Rankings (OGR) are finalised in June.

Saudi-bankrolled LIV Golf has invested US$300 million in the Asian Tour – which unlike LIV receives world-ranking points – leading to the creation of the International Series.

More than 20 LIV golfers have made the short trip over from Hong Kong for this week’s event at the Macau Golf and Country Club, and Singh agreed many have ranking points on their minds.

“We’re seeing that with some of the LIV boys who sit on the cusp of Olympic qualification and the Asian Tour players who want to work their way into the top 60,” he said.

“And therefore we’re looking actively right now at adding another International Series tournament before the cut-off, which is June 17.”

Singh declined to say where and when the event will be “because we haven’t finalised it”, but added: “We’re actively trying to make that happen and the Olympics is one of the driving forces.”

The Asian Tour has only two more events scheduled between now and June, in Saudi Arabia and South Korea, leaving ample room for more.

Hong Kong’s Asian Games gold medallist Taichi Kho is one player who has stated his goal is to qualify for Paris.

The 23-year-old, the 2023 Asian Tour Young Player of the Year, is just outside the top 60.

“I think International Series events, with how strong the fields are, is a great opportunity for me to crack the top-60 benchmark,” Kho said.

“It’s an opportunity this week to progress my game and (get) a little bit closer to that vision of playing the Olympics.”

LIV players such as Anirban Lahiri are battling with Asian Tour golfers such as Gaganjeet Bhullar for one of the India places. Two-time Macau Open winner Bhullar, currently 50th, can rise up the rankings with a good result on one of his favourite courses this week.

Lahiri had been due to tee up in Macau but pulled out after getting the flu in Hong Kong.

Other LIV stars such as Major winner Cameron Smith and Joaquin Niemann have been playing in Australia before Christmas and in Asian Tour events to keep in the frame for Paris. – AFP

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