TEEING OFF: BRENDAN JAMES
WITH two of this country’s most prestigious golf events – the Emirates Australian Open and the Australian PGA – still six months away, it’s likely the drawcards for both championships have been signed.
With contracts signed and appearance fees negotiated, organisers for both tournaments should (hopefully) start announcing their marquee players within the next month or so.
It is also around this time of year that you hear the odd whisper around the traps about who will be coming and who won’t. Much of it you take with a grain of salt.
At the time of writing, I was hearing Jordan Spieth was a good chance to come back to Sydney to defend his Open title at The Australian GC, where he of course won his first Stonehaven Cup in 2014.
Spieth has made no secret of the fact he loves coming to the Harbour City for the Open and he would be warmly welcomed back by the Sydney galleries.
It is also likely Adam Scott will be leading the Australian charge at both tournaments, while PGA Tour players Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman and Aaron Baddeley should be among the starters for at least one of the two events.
Unfortunately it is unlikely we’ll see Jason Day again this summer as he will probably remain in the United States while his mum continues her treatment for lung cancer.
Hopefully we will see more name players from the European Tour teeing it up in Sydney and/or the Gold Coast. Although, any big name player cannot play in both tournaments because the contractual arrangements set out by state government tourism bodies, who pay the appearance money, usually have an ‘exclusive clause’.
For the first time in many years, the Open does not clash with the European Tour’s lucrative season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
That event will finish on November 19, with the Australian Open starting in Sydney a few days later. Then it will be straight on to the PGA, which is a European Tour co-sanctioned tournament.
So, who should Golf Australia and the PGA of Australia have on their respective shopping lists?
With the exception of Spieth, and perhaps Harold Varner III who will be defending his PGA title, most American Tour players won’t want to travel too far from home leading into Thanksgiving. This means the shopping lists should be dominated by European Tour or American-based European golfers.
I think Masters Champion Sergio Garcia would love to come back to Australia with his new bride and get paid for it. With a game well-suited to The Australian, the Spaniard would be a great addition to the depth of talent challenging for the title and is a genuine crowd-puller. The same could be said for his compatriot Jon Rahm, who attracted plenty of attention when he played the World Cup in Melbourne last November.
I’d also like to see Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston play out here. I followed him at the Open Championship at Royal Troon last year and I’ve never seen a Tour player so genuinely thrilled to play in front of a crowd. And the galleries sensed that, which is no doubt why he attracted so many fans over the four days of the tournament. What do you think? Who would you like to see play in Australia this summer? Let me know via email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll publish your thoughts in an upcoming issue of Golf Australia.
“...WHO SHOULD GOLF AUSTRALIA AND THE PGA OF AUSTRALIA HAVE ON THEIR RESPECTIVE SHOPPING LISTS?”