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Young: Australian golf well served by tournament invites

With two wins and a runner-up finish in three Australian Opens Jordan Spieth has played his part. (Photo: Bruce Young)
The recent news of Jason Day’s participation at this year’s Emirates Australian Open has been greeted with joy by Australian golf fans keen to see one of the only three Australian male golfers to have reached the position of World Number One on a more regular basis.

Day will join Jordan Spieth in the field, thus ensuring a gripping encounter between two players who have, at various stages over the past two years, been atop the World ranking.

Just imagine championship Sunday on November 26th at The Australian Golf Club with Day and Spieth locked in a tight battle for the title.

Australian golfing organisations tend to cop criticism at times over what is perceived to be a lack of prizemoney and quality fields in tournaments on the Australasian Tour schedule but a closer look highlights just how lucky we have been in this part of the world over the last few years to see most of the game’s leading players in action at some stage.

Not only have they been in action, but they have given plenty of bang for the plenty of buck they are no doubt paid. It is one thing to be paid a lot of appearance money for coming to this relatively far off part of the world but those doing so have typically repaid their fees with outstanding performances, fully justifying the cost involved.

Some will say the fees paid in appearance money would be better spent by increasing purses but history shows that golfers at the level who would make a significant difference to the strength and profile of a tournament would not get out of bed for even three times the typical Australasian Tour event purse so that concept is purely presented in hope.

Those remaining would play anyway so I feel we are far better having the quality of players we have had in Australia over the years, irrespective of the fees they are receiving, as without them, they would not make the journey and the tournaments would be poorer for it.

Even a doubling of the prize-money in a Tier One Australasian Tour event would make little difference to the strength of a typical PGA Tour of Australasia field.

One look back over the last few years at the quality of players attracted (admittedly helped by a signficant monetary reward) to events in Australia, and the region generally, highlights victories by Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar amongst others. What we might have lacked in depth, we have made up for in quality.

Discussion on the prize money versus appearance money issue comes down to a debate between those who will say we are blessed to have had such quality players here at any price and those in the other half of the debate who would argue we are better to build the events from the bottom up without the lure of appearance money. It is an argument as old as time.  

Having said this, I have this fantasy of a top ten world ranked player each year making himself (or herself) available to play an insignificant event somewhere in the world at no cost to the tournament, other than perhaps airfares and accommodation.

A pipe-dream perhaps but what better way to grow a lesser event in say Japan or New Zealand - or anywhere for that matter - which might otherwise find it impossible to find the monies needed to attract a player of that level?

I can see no more tangible means of such a player growing the game than turning up at an event that might not otherwise have a top 100 player in the field. Imagine - if you will - the concept of a Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson or Jason Day teeing up at the New Zealand Open or a Myanmar Open for no fee and the impact that would have on the game in those regions.

Call me dumb, call me stupid, but I am allowed the occasional fantasy - right?         


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