IMG, Tiger Woods’ management company and owners of the Australian Masters are reportedly planning a rebel golf tournament in Melbourne for the week preceding the 2011 Presidents Cup. If rumours are true, they are set to fracture Australian professional golf like never before.
IMG are yet to make any statement after the Australian Masters was snubbed by the Australasian Tour which awarded the prized week before the Presidents Cup to the Australian Open in Sydney. A further slap in the face to IMG came when the Australian PGA event at Coolum was scheduled for the week following the Presidents Cup.
The rumoured rebel tournament would attract the bulk of the US Presidents Cup team to Melbourne in a one-off shoot-out or skins format event to be held at a course in Melbourne’s sandbelt region. This would give all Presidents Cup players valuable time to acquaint themselves with a course in the style of Royal Melbourne, the host of the 2011 Presidents Cup and cut back on their travel time within Australia.
It is easy to understand why IMG would be furious with the scheduling. The money poured into Australian golf (Masters) over the past few years, single-handedly reignited professional golf in Australia. I do understand the reasons for the Australasian Tour scheduling the major tournaments across the country but snubbing the Australian Masters of a week either side of the Presidents Cup was a very poor decision.
In a time where the PGA Tour and European Tour are jostling for the best players, and the Asian and OneAsia Tours are trying their best to compete, we really don’t need Australian golf to be ripped apart. We are barely big enough to attract the best golfers as a whole and competing interests will ultimately hurt golf in this country. Anyone who thinks a proposed rebel tournament is a good thing must be short-sighted or have other interests in mind. It is time for organisers of Australian professional golf to sit down at the table, swallow their pride and talk.