Australia is set to stage one of its biggest ever seasons of golf, headlined by an $8 million, 16-event tour, starting in October.
PGA of Australia on Thursday confirmed the summer schedule, which has increased from 12 events in 2019-20, and will see the return of the Australian Open.
Bolstering the announcement is the likelihood of big Australian names committing to play on home soil after the pandemic crushed opportunities over the past two summers.
Scroll down for the full schedule!
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World No.2 Cameron Smith is set to return to play in the Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship, while compatriot Marc Leishman is also expected to feature.
Top-50 player Lucas Herbert has already committed to play both showpiece Australian events, while No.66 Min Woo Lee will feature at the Australian PGA Championship.
LIV Golf, meanwhile, is reportedly eyeing three Australian events as part of its expanded 2023 core schedule, and the International Series it runs with the Asian Tour.
Should those events materialize around April, as reported by Australian Golf Digestit would see the likes of Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson also down under this upcoming season.
While the Greg Norman-led series has its detractors due to its Saudi Arabian funding, LIV’s reported venture into Australia will ultimately give golf fans more events, and more international stars, playing for big-money purses on these shores.
Combined with the bumper PGA Tour of Australasia schedule, golf’s Australian presence is set for a significant shot in the arm, while the groundwork has been put in place for more growth in the coming years.
PGA of Australia is committed to increasing the prize money on its tour, this year offering $2 million at the Australian PGA Championship, and $1.7 million each for the men’s and women’s fields at the Australian Open.
Combined with state Opens, state PGAs, The Players Series, and a New Zealand swing, the full season is worth more than $8 million.
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Just as significant, however, is the creation of better pathways into Europe and, in turn, the US, through a strengthened partnership with the DP World Tour.
Thursday’s announcement revealed that the top three players in the Order of Merit will earn a DP World Tour playing card for the following season, while the following 10 players gain exemption into at least the second stage of Q-School.
The Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship will both be co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour with the winner also gaining automatic entry to the circuit, while the winner of the Order of Merit earns a spot at next year’s Open Championship.
“What I love about this is the pathways that it creates for our exciting crop of future Australian stars,” PGA of Australia chief Gavin Kirkman said.
“We’ve worked hard to build the schedule back after Covid knocked everyone around in the tournament space, and having the Australian Open and the New Zealand Open back stronger than ever really makes a difference.”
Playing fields could improve again next season when the US PGA Tour reverts back to a calendar schedule, instead of the current wraparound program that conflicts with the Australasian Tour.
Furthermore, Kirkman confirmed to reporters that LIV players are allowed to feature on the tour, unlike in Europe and the US where the PGA and DP World Tours have banned dual members.
“The players coming home to play, as long as there’s no conflicting event, they will be welcome to play,” he said. “And the Australian players that come home, and wherever they’re playing at the moment, if they’re members of our organisations, they’ll be eligible to play, and that’s been discussed with the other tours.”
In theory, this would open the door for LIV Golf’s Australian contingent to play several events at home in the coming months, split between the two tours.
That ensures that any defection to LIV Golf, as widely reported, would likely see Smith play more in Australia, not less.
Kirkman, meanwhile, said he hasn’t been approached by LIV about the staging of a tournament next year in Australia.
“We’re hearing things are going on but at the end of the day … if that event comes to Australia we’ll just continue focusing on what we do best and that’s running our tour and servicing Australian golf in the way we feel it should be serviced,” he said.
“We’ll just see what happens there.
“If it comes to Australia, we’ve got to be in a position to stay focused on our strategy. If it fits in, it fits in, but we will talk closely to Golf Australia and the WPGA Tour and work on what we need to keep working on.”
PGA TOUR OF AUSTRALASIA FULL 2022-23 SCHEDULE
October 10-16 — CKB WA PGA, Kalgoorlie Golf Club — $200,000
October 17-23 — WA Open, West Australian Golf Club — $162,500
November 7-13—VIC PGA, Moonah Links Resort—$200,000
November 14-20—Queensland PGA, Nudgee Golf Club—$200,000
November 21-28 — Fortinet Australian PGA Championship, Royal Queensland Golf Club — $2,000,000
November 29-December 4 — ISPS HANDA Australian Open, Victoria Golf Club and Kingston Heath Golf Club — $1,700,000
December 5-11 — Gippsland Super 6, Warragul Country Club — $175,000
January 23-29—TPS Victoria, Rosebud Country Club—$200,000
Jan 30-Feb 5 — TPS Murray River, Cobram-Barooga Golf Club — $200,000
TBA February—VIC Open, TBA—TBA
February 13-19 — TPS Sydney, Bonnie Doon Golf Club — $200,000
February 20-26—TPS Hunter Valley, Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort—$200,000
February 27-March 5—NZ Open, Millbrook Resort—$1,400,000
March 6-12 — NZ PGA Championship Auckland — $150,000
13-19 March—Play Today NSW Open TBA—$400,000
Late March – Season Finale TBA TBA — $200,000