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Japan tour's rising son hails OneAsia ties

James McLeanHONG KONG, Jan 24 - OneAsia's burgeoning relations with the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) are proving a great attraction for the Asia-Pacific's top golfers, but few more so than Australian James McLean.

McLean, 34, earned his full Japan playing rights at Q-School last month and is now looking forward to spending time on both tours -- and taking advantage of the events the organisations co-sanction.

"The great thing about the Japan and OneAsia Tours is that given their close proximity to Australia and each other I will be able to straddle both during the season whilst still having time at home," McLean said.

"I think co-sanctioned events are a terrific platform for players to experience different conditions and play in different fields, so I fully support the OneAsia and Japanese Tour working collaboratively in this way."

OneAsia and the JGTO first came together last year at the Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open which was co-sanctioned by both bodies, although earnings only counted for the former's Order of Merit.

Ties were strengthened at the Thailand Open when 20 slots were set aside for JGTO members, but this year the tours have undertaken a more formal collaborative effort for the opening events of the season.

The Thailand Open and Indonesian PGA Championship in March will be fully co-sanctioned, with earnings to count for both Orders of Merit. Any player who wins either event will get exemption on both tours.
McLean is typical of the modern globe-trotting professional who keeps his irons in the fire of several tours at the same time.

A long-time member of the PGA Tour of Australasia, he finished an impressive ninth at the JGTO's gruelling December Q-School after missing his card by one spot in 2011 and spending the next 12 months on OneAsia and Japan's challenge tour.

While he admits he didn't play his best on OneAsia -- making just three cuts in seven tournaments -- he has been focussing on his physical conditioning in a bid to improve his stamina over the course of the season.

James McLean"Whilst I do enjoy playing OneAsia events, in 2012 I often played them during breaks from my schedule in Japan when I wasn't at my best physically or mentally," he said.

"In the past I have had difficulty maintaining my strength during the year, but under the instruction of my coach, Stu Leong, I have commenced Kaiser Training which is a niche form of conditioning training designed to strengthen muscles key to my game.

"Once this foundation period is completed I will hopefully  be equipped with exercises and movements which I'll be able to do whilst I'm away to maintain my strength -- regardless of whether I have access to a gym."

McLean, who hails from Sydney, turned professional in 2000 after a very successful amateur career at college in the United States.

After playing a few events on the European Tour in 2001 -- his best finish was joint 10th at the Novotel Perrier Open de France -- he earned his 2003 U.S. PGA Tour card at Q School and was being hailed as one to watch.

Disaster struck, however, when a mystery wrist injury just couldn't properly be diagnosed by a slew of experts, and he drifted out of the headlines.

Better conditioned, and with a renewed appetite for the game, McLean is hoping 2013 will be a much-delayed breakthrough year.

"I certainly plan to play both of the OneAsia co-sanctioned events at the start of the season as well as the ones at the end in Australia," he said.

"I also hope that if I have a solid start to the year in Japan I will be able to play more of the OneAsia events in the middle of the year.

"Obviously the co-sanctioned events this year will be a great test as to whether the format works for both organisations, but I would certainly welcome a OneAsia co-sanctioned event in Japan in the future."

McLean said OneAsia provided an excellent opportunity for golfers to test their game against the best in the Asia-Pacific.

"The tour has improved year-on-year since its inception and I am positive about its future and the pathway it presents for Australian golfers," he said.

McLean wasn't the only OneAsia player to earn a card on the JGTO for 2013. Fellow Australian Ryan Haller finished 12th at Q-School to earn full status, while New Zealander Michael Hendry's 26th-place finish means he will also get starts on both tours.