In a Singapore courtroom this week, Asian Tour executive chairman Kyi Hla Han will defend his organization in a lawsuit brought by four players suspended after refusing to pay $5,000 each as a fine for playing on the competing OneAsia Tour.
Terry Pilkadaris, Matthew Griffin, Guido van der Valk and Anis Helmi Hassan are the plaintiffs in the case, each opting to play events on the OneAsia Tour in 2010.
In accordance with its regulations, the Asian Tour fined the quartet for those OneAsia starts. All declined to pay the fine and were subsequently suspended, according to Reuters.
The players contend the fines are unfair and too large relative to the money they earn on the tour – almost equivalent to what a player must pay to even tee it up in an event. The fine has since been doubled to $10,000.
Only van der Valk continues to compete on the Asian Tour, choosing to pay the fine in 2011.
The practice of limiting player mobility is not foreign to golf. PGA Tour players are considered independent contractors though members must seek permission from the tour to compete in events on competing tours. A member can ask for one release for every five PGA Tour events played.
The Asian Tour has previously accused OneAsia of stealing tournaments from their schedule, banning players from competing in events they claim were poached. OneAsia boasts 14 events this season, including three new tournaments. The Asian Tour is set to hold 26 tournaments – an increase of one over 2011.
In a decision unrelated to the lawsuit, OneAsia chief executive Ben Sellenger resigned in Nov. 2011.