Date: April 22, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Aussie pros loving Fiji’s European ties

The growing Fiji International has its place on the European Tour – and the biggest winner could well be an Australian professional.

The PGA Tour of Australasia yesterday announced the continued expansion of its relationship with the European Tour, with the two bodies agreeing to co-sanction the Fijian event to be held from October 6-9 at Natadola Bay.

The tournament coincides with a popular event on the European Tour, the now traditional Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on three different courses in eastern Scotland.

And while a handful of Aussie pros will get a chance to play in and around St Andrews in one of the continent’s most lucrative events, many more are already eyeing the European Tour benefits that now stand available in Fiji.

Golf Australia rookie squad member Nathan Holman was the first to cash in on the Australian PGA Championship’s co-sanctioned status when his victory last December earnt him his full playing rights for the European season.

And fellow pro Victorian Ash Hall was one quick to see the Fiji news as a great opportunity along similar lines.

“That makes Fiji now one of the biggest events for us all year … it’s a great chance for us PGA of Australia players,” Hall said.

“Opposite the Dunhill tournament, if it all goes as it seems it might, this could be a very fruitful week.”

PGA chief commercial officer Steve Ayles said final machinations of the Fiji co-sanctioning agreement were yet to be confirmed, but was thrilled with the deal for the tour’s membership.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our members to be involved with all aspects of one of the world’s great tours … as well as promote a global field in Fiji, which is just a fabulous destination for everyone,” Ayles said.

European Tour boss Keith Pelley lauded the “tremendous news” that Fiji was added to the schedule.

“The tournament will not only increase the playing opportunities for our members, it will also increase our presence on the world stage,” Pelley said.

“Our thanks go to the Fijian Government and the PGA Tour of Australasia, with whom we are forging an ever-stronger relationship through our co-sanctioned tournaments.”