PGA Tour looking to tee up Australian event to strike back at LIV Golf – Sydney Morning Herald
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The PGA Tour is in discussions to bring a second-tier event to Australia to increase their global footprint as the boss of the Australian circuit said he will continue lobbying for a local course to be included as part of an Asian swing.
While Greg Norman’s breakaway LIV Golf league is finally set to confirm this week Adelaide will host an Australian event in April next year, the PGA Tour has been quietly making their own plans as Australia becomes a mini battleground in golf’s civil war.
According to sources familiar with the situation, the PGA Tour has proposed an event on the Korn Ferry Tour, the United States’ secondary circuit, be played in Australia. The tour provides opportunities for players to graduate to the main circuit and features a number of Australians.
The sight of the world’s best players has been few and far between in Australia over the last decade with the Presidents Cup played in Melbourne in 2011 and 2019. The often criticised World Cup was also played on these shores in 2013 and 2016.
But the PGA Tour is yet to create a top-tier tournament in Australia while Norman swoops with a $35 million showcase to include Australia’s Cameron Smith and major winners Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia next year.
But PGA Tour of Australia boss Gavin Kirkman has reaffirmed his commitment to the alliance with the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour (formerly European Tour) in the face of LIV, which signed The Open champion Smith to a reported $140 million earlier this year.
Cameron Smith will return to Australia for the first time in three years.Credit:AP
Kirkman said he held a meeting with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in September and is in weekly contact with officials from world golf’s two biggest tours as Norman’s Saudi-backed LIV concept shakes up the sport.
Kirkman also spoke to Norman earlier this year, but hasn’t had any contact since with LIV officials, including when they made a whistle-stop visit to Australia several months ago to scout an appropriate course.
“We just want to make sure we stay within the global golf ecosystem and that we do what we’ve been doing for a long time,” Kirkman said. “But we also want to be recognised for building champions to play on the big stage and work from there.
“While we’re building champions, our hand is up to stage some of these major tour events down in Australia. If there’s a south-east Asia swing [on the PGA Tour] with Japan or China, I’m at the table putting my hand up really high to say, ‘we want to be part of that swing’. We want events of that level to attract the top 50 and top 100 players in the world.
Adam Scott has shouldered the load of playing Australian tournaments for years.Credit:AP
“We’ll manage what happens and what gets announced [with LIV], but our focus will stay on our tour, our players and our partners to stay within the global golf ecosystem. We’ve got 220 members and four of the best are playing LIV Golf, but there’s another 216 I’ve got a responsibility to provide playing opportunities and pathways for. LIV is not going to change what we do.”
Homegrown stars Smith, Adam Scott and Cameron Davis will return for Australia’s most significant summer of golf in years, starting with the Australian PGA in Brisbane later this month.
The event is co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour and LIV defectors are allowed to play given pending court action against their banning from golf’s two biggest tours.
Smith will bring home the claret jug in his first visit to Australia in almost three years, while in Brisbane he’ll also be presented the keys to the city and try to break a Guinness world record for the largest golf coaching clinic next weekend.
“We’ve probably got the strongest Australian men’s field we’ve had in terms of local players coming home,” Kirkman said. “Just for them to return to their home country is going to be good and the future of our game is going to be showcased well over the summer.”
Christian Hardy, the PGA Tour’s senior vice president international, said the PGA of Australia had been a “wonderful partner” and its alliance with the DP World Tour would strengthen the pathways for Australian golfers.
“We look forward to strengthening our long-standing association,” he said. “Australia remains a priority and we will continue to support the growth of golf in the region.”
Said DP World Tour’s chief tournament business officer Ben Cowen: “We are excited to begin our 2023 DP World Tour season in Brisbane at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship, reaffirming Australasia as a key part of golf’s global ecosystem, and it is encouraging to see eight Australian golfers competing at the final stage of qualifying school in Spain this week with an opportunity to secure further playing privileges.
“We look forward to working closely with the PGA of Australia’s chief executive officer, Gavin Kirkman, to identify further areas the DP World Tour and PGA Tour can continue to support and build on the work we have done to help grow the game in this region.”
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