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Perth golf event set for long-term stay

The Perth International could remain Western Australia's marquee golf event for decades to come, with its owner IMG eager to build the event into a major force in the Asia-Pacific region.

THE PERTH International could remain Western Australia's marquee golf event for decades to come, with its owner IMG eager to build the event into a major force in the Asia-Pacific region.

The $US2million tournament, which is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and the European Tour, is in the second year of a three-year deal.

That's likely to be extended by a further three years, with Western Australia's tourism arm and stakeholder Eventscorp also pleased with how the tournament has progressed.

The timing of the Perth International remains its biggest obstacle, with many players on the US and European tours finding it hard to squeeze in a trip to Australia.

IGM touched base with everyone in the world's top 30 about coming to Perth this year, but only world No.21 Dustin Johnson accepted the invitation.

"Rory McIlroy was a possibility at one stage, but he's being paid $1.6 million to play in Korea this week," Eventscorp executive director Gwyn Dolphin said.

"We're not able to compete with that, otherwise we'd blow the whole budget on one guy.

"And if he has one bad round, he misses the cut and we're buggered."

IMG golf vice-president David Rollo said the Perth International had huge potential to grow.

"We have seen events like the Australian Masters go solid in Melbourne for 35 years and we have got similar ambitions to really grow this event and make it a major event in the Asia-Pacific region," Rollo said.

"Media evaluations for this event last year were through the roof - $121million for our partners."

The inaugural Perth International featured 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, this year's US PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner, former world No.3 Paul Casey and Australian Greg Chalmers.

But the talent pool ran thin after that.

This year, Johnson, Casey, defending champion Bo Van Pelt, rising South African star Branden Grace and Australian Brett Rumford were the drawcards.

Rollo and Dolphin hope word of mouth will help attract other top-line players in future years.

Dolphin said the event's media coverage had been worth around $23 million to the state.

"One of the big advantages of the European Tour events is the television package," he said.

"You've got over 400 million homes that you're going to get into. In value terms, that's fantastic."

AAP

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