Date: October 28, 2013

Grant Report – USPGA Championship for Australia?

There was a time when the Australian Open was spoken of as the world’s fifth golf major.

But there is now a possibility that a genuine grand slam championship could be played in this country – albeit not on a permanent basis.

US and Australian officials are looking into the radical proposition to take the USPGA Championship to various international locations, and Australia is anxious to push for the event to be staged here.

The idea came to light after US PGA chief executive Pete Bevacqua said his committee was looking into the advantages of holding the PGA Championship overseas once or twice a decade.

Brian Thorburn, chief executive officer of the PGA of Australia, spoke enthusiastically about the chance to host the tournament and said he would raise the topic with Bevacqua when they are scheduled to meet shortly.

"Absolutely,"’ Thorburn told Fairfax recently. ”We’ll engage in discussions with them and put our best foot forward.

"We have the infrastructure here; we’ve hosted the Presidents Cup and the World Cup.

"And players love playing here" He cited the recent appearance of Dustin Johnson and Bo Van Pelt at the Perth International and Rory McIlroy’s decision to play this year’s Australian Open in Sydney.

However he warned that the PGA would need to lean heavily on government funding to have a chance of putting on the event.

As far as the venue was concerned, Thorburn said Australia was extremely flexible.

He said each state was able to put a golf course forward that would be capable of hosting the world’s best players.

”Obviously it is up to the US PGA to consider the feasibility and if, strategically, it is a possibility,” he said.

”The sandbelt courses [in Victoria] are the most well-known but there is also Royal Sydney, plus there are a few on the Gold Coast and Karrinyup…in Perth."

Whether or not the change will be realised, it is not likely to happen for several years.

The US PGA Championship will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2016 and is not able to consider a move until 2020 because television rights and venues have been locked in until 2019.

Thorburn thought there was a good chance of the US PGA deciding to move the tournament abroad.

He said that the NFL moving games to London and Major League Baseball playing the opening game of its 2014 season in Sydney showed the top sports in the US were thinking more about international exposure to remain competitive.

And he believed Australia could have a strong chance of being selected due to its record with major events, including the 2000 Olympic Games.

Meanwhile, on the US Tour, Victorian Aaron Baddeley has had a strong result after battling through 2013 with 14 missed cuts.

Playing in the CIMB Classic at the Kuala Lumpur Golf Golf, Baddeley took fifth spot after a final round 66.

He was just two shots off the pace, shared by Americans Gary Woodland and Ryan Moore.

Woodland and Moore finished tied for the lead at the end of regulation play but were forced to return on Monday to complete their play-off for victory due to bad light.

By: Robert Grant