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Ballesteros family accuses European Tour of showing 'disrespect'

Spain's former golf player Severiano Ballesteros laughs during a news conference in Madrid October 29, 2010 in this file photo. REUTERS/Andr
Spain's former golf player Severiano Ballesteros laughs during a news conference in Madrid October 29, 2010 in this file photo. REUTERS/Andr

(Reuters) - The family of Seve Ballesteros has accused the European Tour of showing 'disrespect' to the deceased major winner amid an intensifying row about a duplicate matchplay event against Asia.

The European Tour will host the inaugural EurAsia Cup in Malaysia in March, a team matchplay event between Asia and Europe, having opted against returning to sanction the Royal Trophy, an eight-year-old tournament also played between the two continents.

The Royal Trophy, launched by Ballesteros along with the Japan and China Tours and first played in 2006, was sanctioned by the European Tour for two years before they dumped it and announced the new tournament with the Asian Tour last year.

At the unveiling of Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee as the captains for the inaugural event last month, European Tour chief executive George O'Grady said the EurAsia Cup had the support of the Seve Ballesteros family and foundation.

"I am certain that Seve would have found this new proposal to be in very bad taste and very disrespectful," Vicente Ballesteros, brother and one-time caddie of the five-times major winner, said in a statement sent by the Royal Trophy on Friday.

"Mr O'Grady has also said that this new proposed event is supported by the Ballesteros family. Whenever anyone talks in public about any family, that person must be very careful.

"I wonder what he means. My brother Baldomero and I do not support this new proposed event at all. In fact we find this attempt disrespectful and I personally find incredible that anyone takes the liberty to talk on Seve's behalf.

"We support the Royal Trophy and find this new proposed event to be misleading and very bad. I never imagined some people could go so far."

European Tour officials were not immediately available for comments when contacted by Reuters on Friday.

Last month the Tour quoted Javier Ballesteros, Seve's son, saying in Hong Kong that 'it is only fitting that Seve's name is now formally associated with his dream of a team match between two continents, Europe and Asia'.

SHOCKING

Seve Ballesteros, who captained the European side to victories in the first two editions of the Royal Trophy in Thailand in 2006 and 2007, died of brain cancer in May 2011.

His legacy has been maintained by the Royal Trophy, with Ballesteros' long time friend, compatriot and Ryder Cup colleague Jose Maria Olazbal skippering the European side to a dramatic victory over Asia in December before calling on O'Grady to resolve the row.

"It is shocking that the European Tour would then propose a new event which seems to be directly copied from the Royal Trophy without even consulting with the Japan Golf Tour or the China Golf Association," said Seve's nephew Ivan, a co-managing Director of the Royal Trophy.

"Mr George O'Grady said that although they sanctioned the Royal Trophy previously, they had fundamental differences of policy. I do not understand what he means and we invite Mr. O'Grady to openly set out what these differences are.

"I was personally told by the European Tour that if they ever sanctioned an event between Europe and Asia it would be the Royal Trophy."

Asia's golfing bodies have been at odds with each other since the founding in 2009 of the OneAsia circuit, a joint venture between Australia, China and South Korea golf administrators.

The move angered the Asian Tour, who lost a number of events to the OneAsia circuit, which has begun also co-sanctioning Japan Golf Tour events.

Ivan Ballesteros had no interest in becoming another victim in the row.

"The Japan Tour has been sanctioning the Royal Trophy in all seven editions. What is it that makes the Japan Tour be part of it but not the European Tour and Asian Tour?

"It is unnecessary to have another Europe vs Asia tournament, especially when the Royal Trophy roots are as special as they are."

(Writing by Patrick Johnston; additional reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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