The PGA of Australia
have announced the Australian Open in Sydney will take place on the weekend before the Presidents Cup
in Australia next year. It is a hugely controversial decision with most experts predicting the Australian Masters would be given the prized weekend.
A second blow was dealt to the Australian Masters when it was also announced the Australian PGA Championship at Coolum will take place the weekend after the Presidents Cup. The Australian Masters has been assigned the first weekend of December.
Most likely dates and host course:
Australian Open: The Lakes, Sydney (Nov 10 – 13, 2011)
Presidents Cup: Royal Melbourne, Melbourne (Nov 18 – 20, 2011)
Australian PGA: Hyatt Coolum, Sunshine Coast (Nov 24 – 27, 2011)
Australian Masters: Kingston Heath, Melbourne (Dec 1 – 4, 2011)
The American Thanksgiving weekend (Nov 26, 2010) made the decision even harder given the likelihood that most American players would return home immediately following the Presidents Cup.
IMG own the Australian Masters and manage Tiger Woods.
They will be seething after this decision as they, along with the Victorian Government, have single-handedly resurrected Australian professional golf in the past two years. They have yet to make a statement but I fear they may not cop the decision on the chin.
The decision may have been made easier by the newly elected Victorian Government indicating they will not fork out any appearance fees for golfers at future Australian Masters tournaments. Conversely, Events NSW have pledged to fund appearance fees in Sydney and increase the Australian Open prize pool.
Will Tiger appear in Sydney before the Presidents Cup?
Will any big name, international players appear at the Australian Open? Given the hugely lucrative Singapore Open played the same weekend and they won’t be testing out their game on Melbourne’s sandbelt courses, nothing is assured.
I believe the decision was made in order to benefit the longevity of Australian professional golf. A one-off, two week golf fiesta in Melbourne would have been incredible but perhaps the decision was made hoping ensure golf’s long term success.
Golf will benefit in Australia next year because of the Presidents Cup in Melbourne. It may well be the biggest and best yet. The decision by the PGA of Australia may not necessarily be seen as the right one, but it certainly wasn’t the wrong one.