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Asia chief Martin takes a lashing in Europe row

Written by: Staff
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SHANGHAI, Apr 20 (Reuters) Asian Tour chief executive Louis Martin today said he had taken a ''lashing'' from his players after being accused of capitulating in a rift with the European Tour over a clash of tournament dates.

Martin agreed to ask the sponsors to move the inaugural Aamby Valley Masters in Mumbai to accommodate the co-sanctioned Indonesian Open, despite the Indian event having being announced six weeks earlier.

''We don't like doing business that way and that's what caused the rift,'' Martin told Reuters at the Asian Open, which is also co-sanctioned.

''We came to a stalemate and in a stalemate, somebody has to move. I made the call that Asia would be the one to make the move. I have unfortunately been lashed by my players for capitulating.

''I'll take the lashings, that's my role, I just felt that at this stage we're not strong enough to dictate and for the good of the game in Asia I think we did the right thing.'' After the talks over the date switch, the European Tour made a ''financial contribution'' to the prize fund of the Aamby Valley Masters and the prize money for the event was increased by 100,000 dollars to 400,000 dollars this week.

Martin, who has managed the Asian Tour on behalf of the players since 2004, said he had talked to the European Tour to ensure the row was not repeated.

''It won't happen again, that I can assure you,'' the 62-year-old Englishman said. ''There won't be a second time around.'' Martin also reaffirmed that the current level of nine events jointly sanctioned with the European Tour would not be increased.

''We're about developing Asian players,'' he said. ''We really enjoy the value of the association with the European Tour but there has to be a limit, and we've hit that limit.

FEWER ASIANS Another reason for the limit was that fewer Asian players could take part in co-sanctioned events to make room for the Europeans.

''We have a duty to provide playing and earning opportunities for our members,'' he added.

''My guys would rather tee up for 500,000 dollars full field than a 1 million dollars half field and we can now fill our schedule with full-field events.'' The Asian Tour was also keen to ensure the co-sanctioned events had committed partners to guarantee their future, he said.

''We want to work together with the European Tour without a doubt. We value sustainable events and we have some very strong, committed events with the European Tour.

''That's the only way we can go forward. We are not going to go forward with co-sanctioned events that we believe are not sustainable and we have the right to accept or reject them.'' Martin said he was thankful to the European Tour as there was ''no doubt'' the development of Asia's players had benefited from playing at the co-sanctioned events.

''We just believe that when the European Tour are in Asia, it should be more the Asian way,'' he said. ''We believe that now we're stronger we should have more pulling power.'' Reuters DH GC1703

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