sport

Tour criticised over EurAsia Cup

The European Tour has admitted launching the EurAsia Cup was a mistake and wants to end the row with the organisers of the rival Royal Trophy.

That is according to Ivan Ballesteros, the co-managing director of the Royal Trophy, who has been involved in a bitter dispute with the European and Asian Tours over the EurAsia Cup, which began in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

The row has developed because the EurAsia Cup is in direct competition with the Royal Trophy, a team contest between Asia and Europe played since 2006 that was the brainchild of the late Seve Ballesteros and run by his company.

The Royal Trophy was initially approved by the European Tour but business relations between the Tour and Ballesteros' family firm, Amen Corner, have since deteriorated.

Ballesteros' family were furious that European Tour chief executive George O'Grady claimed Ballesteros would have "cherished" the new contest, releasing a letter from the five-time 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.

In a statement released on Thursday, Seve's nephew Ivan said: "Mr George O'Grady of the European Tour has tried to deny statements we have made previously. His taking back of his own words is remarkably sad.

"We stand by everything we have said before as it is all true and the European Tour's stance in this regard is indefensible. They are acting directly against the request of Seve Ballesteros, a golfer who the European Tour itself always describes as having made an important contribution to the development of the Tour.

"The European and Asian Tours have tarnished the image of golf by treating the heritage of the Royal Trophy and its partners with no regard, no sensitivity and a complete lack of understanding of protocol.

"We understand that the European Tour is in a very difficult position now because they know that the launch of the Eurasia Cup was a mistake. The European Tour has actually confirmed this in writing and verbally. If the European Tour is agreeable to it, we would be glad to release the respective documents to the media.

"In fact, Mr O'Grady explained to me in very certain words that he believes that having two events between Europe and Asia is a silly situation to be in and that this needs to be resolved. He told me that from his understanding the people in Malaysia do not want to be involved in a conflict either.

"He said that a solution needs to be found where everybody does not 'lose too much face'."

The European Tour was not immediately available for comment when Ballesteros' claims were put to it on Thursday morning.

Jose Maria Olazabal has said that the EurAsia Cup is unnecessary, while former US Open champion Graeme McDowell - who won his fourball match with Jamie Donaldson on Thursday as Europe took a 5-0 lead - believes there is room for only one such team event.

Ballesteros added: "It seems to us that the management of the European Tour and the Asian Tour are now leaving the players to deal with this mess.

"The European and the Asian Tours should be the ones answering these questions from the media, not the players who were drawn into this uncomfortable and unfair situation by them."

The eighth edition of the Royal Trophy will be held on December 19-21 at Dragon Lake Golf Club in China. The event is sanctioned by the Japan Golf Tour and the China Golf Association and also supported by the OneAsia Tour.