The European Tour has admitted launching the EurAsia Cup was a “mistake” and are seeking to end the row with the organisers of the rival Royal Trophy that will not “lose too much face”.
That is according to Royal Trophy co-managing director Ivan Ballesteros, who has been involved in a dispute with the European and Asian Tours over the EurAsia Cup, which began in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
In response, the European Tour said it regretted the comments made by Ballesteros and that it had previously supported the Royal Trophy by releasing players to take part, while stressing that it has the full support of the Seve Ballesteros Foundation and has raised more than £1.2 million for it since 2010.
The row has developed because the EurAsia Cup is in direct competition with the Royal Trophy, another team contest between Asia and Europe played since 2006 that was the brainchild of the late Seve Ballesteros.
The Royal Trophy was initially approved by the European Tour but relations between the Tour and Ballesteros’ family firm, Amen Corner, have since deteriorated. Ballesteros’ family were furious that Tour chief executive George O’Grady claimed Ballesteros would have “cherished” the new event, releasing a letter from the five-times major winner to the Asian Tour – sent in 2010, a year before his death from brain cancer – urging them not to copy the Royal Trophy.
Seve’s nephew Ivan Ballesteros said: “We understand that the European Tour is in a very difficult position because they know that the EurAsia Cup was a mistake. The European Tour has confirmed this in writing and verbally. Mr O’Grady explained that having two events between Europe and Asia is a silly situation, and that a solution needs to be found where everybody does not ‘lose too much face’.”
A statement released on behalf of O’Grady and Asian Tour chairman Kyi Hla Han read: “The EurAsia Cup will provide a new platform to continue the considerable charitable work already undertaken on behalf of the Seve Ballesteros Foundation.
“Since 2010 the European Tour has raised over £1.2 million for the foundation and that will be added to following the playing of the EurAsia Cup. The Seve Ballesteros Foundation fully supports the EurAsia Cup through its position as official charity.”
Captain Miguel Angel Jimenez inspired Europe to a 5-0 fourball whitewash against Asia on the opening day. Jimenez and fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal had a 2&1 victory over opposing captain Thongchai Jaidee and fellow Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the first match, with Jimenez carding two eagles and three birdies in the first 11 holes.