Story and photos by Malkeet Kaur
The Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour is set to resume play in September with ten events offering a total of RM930,000 in prizemoney. The schedule is made up of three co-sanctioned events with the Asian Development Tour (ADT), one closed event, four ladies events (which run concurrently with the men’s events) and two qualifying schools.
PGM Tour chairman Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid announced the schedule yesterday concurrently with the launch of the PGM Tour Yearbook 2019 and the announcement of the tour’s 2019 Order of Merit (OOM) winners, Amir Nazrin for the men and Ainil Johani Bakar for the women.
It was earlier reported that the PGM Tour’s 2020 season was unable to commence due to the PGM Tour refusing to pay a 3% sanction fee to the PGA of Malaysia (PGAM), which led to the tour not being able to obtain the required licence from the sports commissioner. And before the issues could be resolved, Covid-19 happened.
Tun Ahmad Sarji announced at the press conference that PGM has obtained the license from the sports commissioner. When asked if matters with the PGAM had been resolved, he said: “PGM has no issues with anybody. I don’t know about any sanction fee. As far as the PGM is concerned, Nik Mustapha (the general manager of the PGM Tour) submitted the documents to apply for the license and being a law-abiding organisation, once the application has been lodged at the Ministry, we have to respect the confidentiality of matters. We could not discuss matters with anyone. We waited and have finally got the license.”
He clarified that the license issued is only for 2020 and that they will have to apply for a fresh one for 2021. “As far as the PGM is concerned, the sports commissioner has been hugely cooperative with us seeing that they have issued us the license. If for any other reason we are not issued the license in 2021, we will not be able to have the tour. If we satisfy their requirements on all accounts, then, of course, the license will be issued. But if there is any intervening factor that warrants them not to issue it, we’ll take it. The final authority is the sports commissioner,” he said.
On the new calendar, Tun Ahmad Sarji revealed that despite having announced the calendar, there is still the possibility of the three ADT events being converted to closed events. This is because the country’s borders may still be closed by the time the first event takes place on September 23-26. Also, players coming from overseas will face quarantine and testing issues.
The PGM has reserved 64 spots for the Asian Tour members in the ADT events. If an event does not get the minimum number of Asian Tour players, the competition will still take place but will no longer be recognised as an ADT event. The foreign players who made it to the event would be there as invitees and there will not be any world ranking points. It will be regarded as a home event, and the prizemoney will be lower.
Charlie Tingey, the Asian Tour’s director of partnerships, said that the tour members are grateful for the playing opportunities in Malaysia. “The players are grateful to PGM for giving them a playing opportunity. It’s not just about the money, which in this current Covid-19 era is a big challenge for everyone, not just our industry; but also there is that matter of the world ranking points and the Olympics and hope that it goes ahead next year. The value of this is on multiple levels.”
Tun Ahmad Sarji also announced that all the mandatory safety protocols would be followed. Prior to arrival at the tournament venue, players will have to complete a health assessment questionnaire. They will be expected to adhere to the SOPs put in place by the tour as well as the clubs, e.g. usage of face masks, body temperatures screening, sanitisation, physical distancing, self-declaration and check-in via MySejahtera.
No spectators will be allowed and parents of young players will only be allowed if the club permits. It was also emphasised that once the players are in the club, the club will take full control of the Covid-19 safety protocols and that the PGM Tour will not bear any Covid-19 testing costs.
On the tour’s plans for 2021, Tun Sarji said that they would welcome new sponsors. “The pandemic has affected many companies, and sponsorship is crucial for us. We have to accept the new normal; thus, we are willing to accept lower sponsorship. We cannot be expecting companies to contribute to the sums that they have in the past. We can only implement our programme in accordance to affordability. If the money is forthcoming, we will have more events, including ADTs. If the money is not enough, we will have to skip ADTs and have closed tournaments.”
There will be no Order of Merit winners for 2020. Instead, PGM will combine the earnings of 2020 with the earnings of the calendar year 2021 to have OOM winners over two years.