SPGA upset that S'pore Open organisers ignore its Order of Merit
National professional body upset with selection criterion that demeans its Order of Merit
The Singapore Professional Golfers' Association (SPGA) is unhappy about the selection criterion for the 2016 Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) Singapore Open in January.
In an e-mail to the SPGA on Oct 5, organisers Lagardere Sports' vice-president (golf) Patrick Feizal Joyco stated that the SPGA Order of Merit would not count as a selection procedure.
Lagardere, a multi-media conglomorate that had acquired around 70 per cent of the capital and voting rights of World Sport Group Holdings Ltd (WSG), main organisers of the former Barclays Singapore Open, is again involved in the national Open.
The Barclays Singapore Open ran for seven years, from 2006 to 2012, before the sponsor pulled out and the national event was not held for three years.
Feizal stated: "After recent discussions with the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO), we have agreed on the following for the SMBC Singapore Open 2016.
"Six spots for the SPGA, excluding exempt players through the Asian Tour/JGTO ranking (i.e.) Mardan Mamat).
"Qualification for the six spots to be determined in this order:
"OWGR (Official World Golf Ranking) top 750 (i.e. Lam Chih Bing).
"Cumulative earnings on all Tours for 2015...
"We will not be able to accept the SPGA OOM (Order of Merit) as the determining criteria for qualification."
The SPGA, who had hoped for eight automatic spots for the event at Sentosa Golf Club, accepted the reduction by two to six players.
But the national professional body is up in arms over the decision not to acknowledge its Order of Merit.
In a reply to Feizal, SPGA president M. Murugiah, said in an Oct 7 e-mail: "I see that you have reduced the quota I asked for (from eight to six) with regard to player slots on behalf of the Singapore Professional Golfers' Association.
"That is your prerogative, I cannot but accept the reduced quota.
"But I beg to differ with you on your suggested selection process for the six golfers to play at the Singapore Open in January.
"I have to go by the SPGA Order of Merit, instead of your suggested criterion, because I have a commitment to our sponsors who had come forward to help the SPGA in the staging of local tournaments (we have had six so far).
"As you know, it is difficult to get sponsors for golf events, and I have an obligation to those who had graciously come forward and supported the SPGA over the past year.
"So, to give credibility to our events, and keep the commitment to our sponsors, I have to select the six players on the SPGA Order of Merit.
"The list could change as we have two more events coming up, so I can only finalise the six after the two events.
"If there is any withdrawal among the six, the SPGA will give the slot to the next best finisher on the Order of Merit."
Murugiah has also taken up the case with Asian Tour executive chairman Kyi Hla Han, who, the SPGA boss said, was supportive of his stand.
Lam Chih Bing heads the SPGA Order of Merit. The others in the top eight are: Mardan Mamat, Koh Dengshan, Mitchell Slorach, Quincy Quek, Gary Kwek, M. Murugiah and Marc Kawasoe.