A player could reap $1.4 million just by winning the first Europe-based Asian Tour at Slaley Hall next week, which is “an opportunity we can’t pass up” according to one tour member.
Californian Berry Henson has got his release from the DP World Tour for the International Series event at the Northumberland Course next week, but is still waiting to find out whether he’ll be released for the LIV Golf event at Centurion in June.
Henson, playing this weekend in the Farmfoods Scottish Challenge at Newmachar, is typical of the handful of pros who have Asian Tour memberships and see the £2m Slaley Hall event as a golden opportunity.
‘It’s a massive week on so many levels’
— AGIF (@agif_asia) April 2, 2022
“Slaley Hall’s the reason why I came over this month,” said the 42-year-old. He has played in the Dunhill Links and performed well at the Hero Open at St Andrews won by Scotland’s Calum Hill last year. But he has membership of both DP World and Asian Tours.
“This for me was the place to get ready for the Asian Tour event, the first ever played over here. I’m excited for it because with all the guys coming over from Asia, I’ve played here a lot and I feel I might have a bit of advantage.
“It’s a massive week on so many different levels, for Asian Tour players as well as myself.”
The International Series has received massive financial backing from LIV Golf, the Saudi-backed group at odds with the main tours over their multi-million schedule of eight events. The first of those is at Centurion near St Albans in June.
As Henson points out, the winner at Slaley Hall gets entry into all eight LIV events, with a minimum of $25m of prizemoney in each.
“The exemptions into the LIV is the big ticket,” he said. “I’ve calculated that if you win next week it’s like winning $1.4m. Because you’ve got the guaranteed money in the LIV events for the remainder of the year.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity for our membership and those playing. Everything I’ve done in the last two months is to peak going into that week. I feel like I’m in a really good spot to do that.”
Potential sanctions – even bans – for PGA Tour and DP World Tour players who play in LIV Golf events have yet to be announced. But while that plays out many players like him will take their chances, says Henson.
‘We couldn’t pass it up’
Order of Merit leader Sihwan Kim, reigning Merit champion @joohyungkim0621, former @usopengolf champion @Graeme_McDowell and 15yo Thai wonderkid @ratchanon_tk will lead an exceptional line up of players at the 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗦𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗘𝗻𝗴𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗱 next month.
— Asian Tour (@asiantourgolf) May 18, 2022
“At the end of the day, as far as the Asian Tour is concerned, we’re creating opportunities for our members. This was an unbelievable opportunity to have. We couldn’t pass it up,” he said.
“We’ve invited Europe to play but with their alliance with the PGA Tour, it’s difficult to do that now. Maybe in the future things are different.
“I’ve asked for a release in case I get into LIV. We don’t know what the consequences are going to be. They haven’t really laid that out, so we have to wait to see.
“By the sound of it, if you’re an Asian Tour player, you don’t have to ask for releases for Slaley Hall because that’s your home tour.
“We don’t know. I think we should have the opportunity to play where we want to play. If we meet the minimums on each tour then, fine. But we have to see how that will play out.”
Henson was granted a release by the DP World Tour to play at Slaley Hall. But that was only on condition he didn’t qualify for the clashing Porsche European Open.
“I was not going to get that,” he said. “Guys in my situation, if you’re not in the main events, it seems right now the European Tour will release you. But I haven’t had an answer from them on the LIV event yet.”