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EurAsia Cup officials hit back in Ballesteros dispute

By Tony Jimenez

(Reuters) - Organizers of the EurAsia Cup hit back at criticism of the inaugural Ryder Cup-style team event on Thursday, saying the competition had the backing of the Seve Ballesteros Foundation.

Earlier, Royal Trophy co-managing director Ivan Ballesteros called the new event "an act of aggression" from the European Tour and the Asian Tour.

Ivan, who helped set up the Europe v Asia Royal Trophy competition with his late uncle Seve, called the first round of the EurAsia Cup on Thursday "a very sad day for golf".

However, the European Tour and the Asian Tour issued a joint statement to say the Seve Ballesteros Foundation charity fully supported the event being staged in Kuala Lumpur.

"The EurAsia Cup will provide a new platform to continue the considerable charitable work already undertaken on behalf of the Seve Ballesteros Foundation," read the statement.

"Since 2010 the European Tour has raised over 1.2 million pounds ($1.99 million) for the foundation and that figure will be added to following the playing of the EurAsia Cup.

"To that end the Seve Ballesteros Foundation fully supports the EurAsia Cup through its position as official charity. The foundation...is run by Seve's children and heirs Javier, Miguel and Carmen," added the statement.

"The foundation has been clear in its private discussions with the European Tour and the Asian Tour that it fully supports the objectives of the EurAsia Cup and its desire to spread international interest in golf and major matchplay tournaments."

According to a report in Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper last month, five-times major champion Seve had asked the European Tour not to proceed with the EurAsia Cup.

Nephew Ivan said Seve had written to the chairman of the Asian Tour shortly before his death in 2011 to say the Royal Trophy had "a very special place in my heart".

"While the European Tour and Asian Tour fully respect the right of Entertainment Group (Asia) Ltd to promote the Royal Trophy, this tournament is not sanctioned by either tour and indeed has not been sanctioned by either tour since 2009," continued the joint statement.

"The sanction was declined due to the qualification criteria of the Royal Trophy and Entertainment Group (Asia) Ltd's commercial strategy."

Europe, captained by Seve's fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, led Asia 5-0 at the end of the first day's play.

($1 = 0.6037 British Pounds)

(Editing by Justin Palmer)

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