When the DP World Tour’s Asian Swing kicks off in Singapore this week before journeying to Thailand and India, it will serve as a massive boon to the region’s aspiring golfers with dreams of chasing history and legacy.
In the past, Asian greats including Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, Zhang Lian-wei of China and India’s Arjun Atwal had notched historic wins for their respective nations in DP World Tour-sanctioned tournaments across Asia, and reaped immediate rewards by earning playing rights in what was formerly known as the European Tour.
The stakes will be so much higher now as a total of 10 PGA Tour cards will be up for grab on the DP World Tour in 2023 for the crème de la crème to gain direct entry to the pinnacle of the men’s professional game.
“The 10 PGA Tour cards is good,” said Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who spent five years on the PGA Tour before losing his status last season. “This creates opportunities for a new generation of golfers to play on a higher tour. As for me, I’m trying to play decent golf again on the DP World Tour, maybe win a couple and then get back onto the PGA Tour,” added the 33-year-old, whose four DP World Tour wins include two in Asia.
The strengthening of a Strategic Alliance between the DP World Tour and PGA Tour, which was initially formed in 2020, has created clear career pathways for the likes of Wang Jeung-hun of Korea, China’s Wu Ashun and Li Haotong, India’s Shubhankar Sharma, Gavin Green of Malaysia and Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura, all regulars on the DP World Tour, to shoot for their American dreams.
With other Strategic Alliances forged recently between the DP World Tour/PGA Tour and Japan Golf Tour, KPGA Tour, Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) and PGA of Australia, players from the various domestic circuits will also enjoy various pathways onto the DP World Tour, and subsequently have a legitimate chance to get onto the PGA Tour so long as they can perform at the highest level.
Korean legend K.J. Choi, who has been victorious on both the DP World Tour and PGA Tour, believes aspiring Korean golfers will be motivated to succeed on the DP World Tour, including Kim Young-soo who secured his exemption for the 2023 DP World Tour season after finishing 2022 as the Genesis Point Award Winner in Korea.
“I’m delighted the KPGA, DP World Tour and PGA Tour have expanded their relationship which will only benefit Korean golfers. Our young players will have added motivation to excel in the game as there is now a clear career pathway for them to compete on the KPGA, and subsequently play against the best players in the world on the DP World Tour and PGA TOUR,” said Choi, who holds eight PGA Tour titles.
“I think it is a great opportunity for players,” added India’s 26-year-old Shubhankar Sharma, who holds two victories on the DP World Tour and finished 29th in the Race to Dubai ranking last season. “Getting onto the PGA Tour has been the dream for most players. It is the biggest Tour in the world, so this alliance between the DP World Tour and PGA Tour could be a huge game changer.”
China already has Marty Dou and Carl Yuan playing their trade full-time on the PGA Tour after graduating from the Korn Ferry Tour in the U.S., and countrymen Li Haotong and Wu Ashun are hoping to join them via the DP World Tour route. In 2018, Li finished ninth in the Race to Dubai ranking and holds three career wins on the DP World Tour.
“This year, a lot of players will target for that, including me,” said the 37-year-old Wu, who is competing in Singapore this week alongside Li. “I have a chance. I have been doing well and I trained well in the off-season,” added the four-time DP World Tour winner as he seeks to emulate countrymen Zhang and Liang Wen-chong – who both won in Singapore previously.
Sharma also hopes to see more Indian golfers joining him on the DP World Tour after compatriot Manu Gandas become the first PGTI player to earn a tour card through the new alliance, which benefits include the launch of two new Challenge Tour events in India along with the staging of the Hero Indian Open later this month. “The DP World Tour’s alliance with the Indian (PGTI) Tour for the winner of the Order of Merit could be a game changer. There will also be spots in Qualifying School. This means over the next two to three years, we will have more Indians with a card on the DP World Tour,” said Sharma.
After the three stops this month, the DP World Tour will return to the Far East once more in late April with new tournaments being played in Japan and 먹튀검증Korea, which will host the $2 million Korea Championship at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon.
The writer is senior director, marketing and communications – APAC for the PGA Tour and is based in Kuala Lumpur.