The likelihood of Jason Day returning home next summer skyrocketed today as Kingston Heath was announced as the host of the 2016 World Cup.
In a joint announcement with US PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, Day spoke glowingly of the Melbourne Sandbelt course, which will host the time-honoured event from November 24-27.
“It’s great that the World Cup of Golf is going to Kingston Heath,” Day said.
“The course has tremendous tradition and it is one of the reasons that Melbourne's Sandbelt is considered home to several of the world's great golf courses.”
The world No.2, who begins his 2016 season this week in Hawaii, missed returning home this summer for the birth of his second child, Lucy, in Ohio.
But Day’s official involvement, plus his oft-stated desire to play in Australia in 2016, firms up the chances that the defending World Cup individual champion will be back in Melbourne at least.
Finchem lauded Kingston Heath, ranked No.18 in the world in this week’s Golf Digest top 100, as a brilliant host venue for the revamped event.
“We are thrilled that a course with the reputation and standing such as Kingston Heath will serve as the tournament’s host venue in 2016,” he said.
“The fans in the Sandbelt region of Australia are some of the best in the world and our players consider themselves extremely fortunate every time they are able to play in an event of this stature in the Melbourne area.
“Our thanks go out to the Victorian Government for their partnership in both the past and future events.”
The 58th edition of the World Cup of Golf, last played at Royal Melbourne in 2013 when it was won by Day and Adam Scott, will have a far greater team flavour next time around, including the method by which the teams are chosen.
Throwing in an enormous $US8 million prize pool, and it’s highly conceivable that a truly world-class field will be back in Australia, providing a huge boon to the domestic circuit.
The 2016 World Cup will be the fifth time Australia has hosted the tournament, but the first time away from Royal Melbourne.
As opposed to what was effectively a combined scores individual event in 2013, this year the event will return to a 72-hole fully team-based format. The first and third days will be foursomes (alternate shot) format and the second and final days are fourball (best ball) play.
The top 28 available players of different countries from the Official World Golf Ranking as of Monday, August 1 (the day after the US PGA Championship) will choose their teammates for the competition.
As the defending Individual champion, Day qualifies automatically as the top-ranked player for Australia and will be allowed to choose his partner.
All other of the top 28 players have until August 12 to commit to play and the deadline for each exempt player to select his partner is August 26.
The first-place team will split $US 2.56 million, also increasing the likelihood that more great names will join an honour roll that includes Jack Nicklaus, Fred Couples, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Arnold Palmer, Bernhard Langer, Sam Snead, Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle, Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods among many others.