The ghost of Seve Ballesteros is at the heart of a golfing dispute that threatens to turn ugly for the European Tour.
The decision by the Tour to stage a new matchplay event in Malaysia aping the Royal Trophy, contested by teams from Europe and Asia, has angered organisers, including members of the Ballesteros family.
The Royal Trophy, launched by Ballesteros in 2006 with the backing of the European Tour and supported in his memory by brother Vicente and nephew Ivan, is threatening legal action over what it claims is theft of intellectual property.
Vicente is also angered by claims made by the Tour chief executive, George O’Grady, that the EurAsia Cup, to be launched in March with Europe captained by Miguel Angel Jimenez and Asia by Tongchai Jaidee, has the backing of the 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 said in a statement issued by the Royal Trophy.
“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.
“My brother Baldomero and I do not support this new 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 event to be misleading and very bad. I never imagined some people could go so far.”
Royal Trophy co-managing director Ivan Ballesteros has instructed lawyers to determine the merits of legal action. “It is shocking that the European Tour would 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,” he said, referring to the joint sanctioning bodies.