Asian Tour not fully on board over proposed merger with European Tour
Majority of Asian Tour golfers vote for four new faces to join decision-making body in light of proposed merger with Euro Tour
In the light of the proposed merger with the European Tour, the majority of the Asian Tour players competing in Chonburi, Thailand, this week want a change of personnel in their golf body's board.
At a special meeting on Tuesday, the majority of the Asian Tour players competing in the Thailand Golf Championship voted for four new members to join the board.
The four are Jimmy Masrin of Indonesia, Jaturon Himathongkom of Thailand, Emmet Hsu of Taiwan and Enrique Rizon of the Philippines.
The four businessmen who have played major roles in the Asian Tour's events over many years are said to be "men of clout and credibility".
The players - led mainly by the Thais, Indians and Taiwanese - feel that the quartet will also help in the negotiations if the merger comes about and would not "sell the Asian Tour down the drain."
The Asian Tour's website states that the board currently comprises executive chairman Kyi Hla Han, Rick Siemens, Gautam Thapar and Ken Schofield (all non-player members) and Lam Chih Bing, Boonchu Ruangkit, Zhang Lianwei and Scott Barr (all player members).
However, Lam quit the board and also relinquished his role as chairman of the Tournament Players' Committee last week.
At Ho Tram in Vietnam last week, a harassed-looking Lam said: "Since the merger proposal I have been having a difficult time convincing players of the merits of the union.
"I feel that there are benefits from the merger, but some players still feel that it is not a good move.
"Because of this my golf has been suffering, so I felt I should step down and concentrate on my game".
Lam, 38, a top prospect as a junior and a previous winner of an Asian Tour event, withdrew from last week's event in Vietnam after the first day, and has been missing cuts in other recent events.
The proposed creation of a mega golf Tour is facing many doubts because of differences of views and has also seen the departure of the Asian Tour's chief executive Mike Kerr, who resigned last month.
Irishman Kerr, who operated from the Tour's headquarters in Singapore, came on board in March 2012 after a 12-year stint with broadcaster ESPN Star Sports.
One insider, who believes there are many benefits to a merger, said that the Asian Tour is labelled the Players' Tour, and that in itself should underline that whatever the body does it is for the benefit of its players.
But many players feel that a mega Tour would see the Europeans taking over control and eventually limiting the playing opportunities of Asians, especially the fringe players.
Singapore's No. 1 golfer Mardan Mamat is one of those against the merger.
Mardan told me in Vietnam last week: "We should keep the Asian Tour legacy. I'm afraid with the merger, in the long run, we will lose our identity."
Like Mardan, many top-rate players feel that Asia is the burgeoning market and Europe is struggling with sponsorship.
And one player, who did not want to be named, said: "Why should we open our doors so widely to the Europeans?
"We already have many co-sanctioned events which limits playing chances for our mid-range standard players."
The one consolation the Asian Tour has is that its head honcho, Kyi Hla Han, is a former high-ranking player himself (Singapore Open winner in 1994) and he understands the players' plight well enough.
The affable Myanmarese is an approachable and affable personality, and the hope is that whatever restructuring comes along it is a move forward that will satisfy the wishes of the Asian Tour players.