Australian Open nabs coveted pre-Presidents Cup week

Ending months of speculation surrounding the scheduling of Australia’s major tournaments in regards to The Presidents Cup, The Australian PGA has announced that the 2011 Australian Open will be played from November 10 – 13 2011, while the Australian PGA Championship will be played from November 24-27 2011.

Thus, the schedule in November will be as follows:

November 10-13: Australian Open (NSW)
November 14-20: Presidents Cup  (Vic)
November 24-27: PGA Championship (QLD)

The Australian Masters is tentatively scheduled for December 1 -4 2011, but this date is still to be confirmed.

Also to be confirmed is the date for the NZ Open which is scheduled as the final event for the season from December 8-11 2011.

On announcing the dates, the PGA’s CEO Max Garske said the decision was made in the best interest of both Australian golf and the PGA Tour of Australasia.

“There were a number of factors that needed to be carefully considered in finalising the scheduling for 2011 including the timing of a number of international events, the availability of certain venues and the domestic schedule that best serves the Australian golfing public,” said Garske.

“With the focus of the golfing world set to be firmly on Melbourne come mid-November 2011, it is a given that the Presidents Cup will offer up a number of benefits to events falling on either side. So with these factors in mind we feel we have made the decision in the best interest of the game and we now look forward to what will be a great year for the Australian golf community.”

Golf Australia Chief Executive Officer Stephen Pitt said he was very pleased with the schedule.

“We are delighted that the Australian Open has been scheduled before the 2011 Presidents Cup. As some of the top players in the world visit our shores, golf will be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. We look forward to welcoming any of the President’s Cup players to compete in Sydney at the Australian Open.”

“Not only will the Open provide a magnificent opportunity for players to compete for one of the world’s oldest National Opens, it also gives these players the opportunity to climb even higher on the world rankings through the double ranking points on offer to the champion.”

“We have consistently said that we wanted the best result for golf – the schedule that grows the game across the board and the Australian Open remains the most prestigious championship in Australian golf and will be an excellent lead-in event to the President’s Cup.”

IMG, which manages The JBWere Masters, will be making a formal statement on the JBWere Masters in the New Year, and have said that they will not be available for comment until that announcement. In a recent press release, IMG simply said “We thank you in advance for respecting our position and would also like to thank you all for your outstanding support of the 2009 and 2010 JBWere Masters.”

The decision will doubtless have been a major blow to IMG, as they believe that they deserve to have been awarded the coveted dates prior to The Presidents Cup – given their significant investment in time, effort and money to raise the profile of the Australian Masters in recent years.

It may also seem to be a minor blow for Victorian golf tourism in general, as the notion of a two-week JBWere Masters/Presidents Cup double-header had been touted as a major potential drawcard for golfers across the globe. It was assumed (or hoped) that team members from the US and International teams would come en-masse to play at Kingston Heath were it scheduled for the week leading into the President’s Cup. The course was to be similar to Royal Melbourne and two weeks would give them a chance to acclimatise.

While the schedule has been set, it’s likely that the drama is far from over. IMG’s silence on the matter speaks volumes, and it leads us to wonder what they may have up their sleeves — whether it is a competing tournament or side event, etc.

Either way, it is certain to be an interesting year for Australian golf.

YOUR SAY

What do you think about the announcement? Do you agree with the scheduling, or would you rather have the Australian Masters (in Melbourne) play host to the first tournament prior to The Presidents Cup?   Or should the Australian Open be moved to Victoria? Share your thoughts below!

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