It has been the talk of Sydney since they announced their Emirates Australian Open rematch.
But ever since world No.2 Adam Scott raised the prospect of a direct shootout with world No.1 Rory McIlroy in China recently, the golfing world has been waiting to learn whether or not last year’s combatants would be paired in the opening rounds.
And while Golf Australia championship director Trevor Herden would love to make it happen, he says there are several reasons why the two men who thrilled record crowds last year will not pair up until at least next Saturday.
“It’s very tempting, but there are several considerations when pairing the strongest world-class players in the Emirates Australian Open field,” Herden said.
“And it’s for the exact reasons that the Masters, US and British Opens and the US PGA separated these two guys this season.
“Just like all the major championships do, we will spread out the superstars across the draw to ensure as many people as possible see them.
“Obviously spectators at The Australian will want to see the stars as much as possible, but some might only have a morning free, some an afternoon — so on the first two days, to provide options for spectators, we will continue to give them that chance, regardless of when they come.”
Herden also stressed that reducing the possible impact of wild weather was critical to fans, broadcasters and stakeholders alike.
“Serious weather conditions can jeopardise your event – especially if a they impact on a number of your strongest players,” he said.
“That can happen if they are locked in the same wave – morning or afternoon. And if a number of top players miss the 36-hole cut, the event could lose all the momentum it has generated.
“From a TV perspective, when we split the players to opposite sides of the draw, we guarantee two sessions of entertaining golf for the viewing public to focus on.
“And while the morning groups are not live to air on Thursday and Friday, the marquee groups are taped and highlights are packaged by the network.
“This not only helps provide the network with important highlights and footage to open the day’s live telecast, but should there be a weather episode and play has to be suspended, the network can run with these, rather than going back to previous years where the current sponsors might not have been involved.
“That’s absolutely critical for our major sponsor groups – and we must always respect and protect the investment of our sponsors, including the network.”
The draw for the opening round will be finalised on Tuesday afternoon with all the latest news at www.emiratesaustralianopen.com.au throughout the tournament.
The 2014 Emirates Australian Open will be played at The Australian Golf Club from November 27-30.
The event will be telecast for all four days on Channel 7.