Australian Masters will not be played this year, IMG announces
Thursday, March 31, 2016
The Australian Masters, a Down Under tradition on the PGA Tour of Australasia calendar, will not be played this year, organizers announced.
In November, Australian Peter Senior, at 56, became the oldest winner in event history when the Masters returned to its longtime home, Melbourne’s Huntingdale Golf Club. The roster of past champions includes Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Bernhard Langer and Adam Scott. The tournament, first played in 1979, had been co-sponsored by the European Tour in 2006-09.
Aaron Baddeley, an Australian who won the 2007 Aussie Masters, said Thursday at the Shell Houston Open that it was “sad news.”
"I know last year they were struggling,” Baddeley said. “The purse ($574,000) was really small. It’s disappointing; such a tradition over the years.
“I remember going to Huntingdale (as a kid) and Tiger coming down in 1996 with (Mike) Fluff (Cowan) caddieing for him, and meeting Brad Faxon there one year, I think ’98. After that, we kept in touch, so I’ve had a lot of great memories at the Masters.”
IMG, which runs the event, announced in a statement reported by Australian media that it intends to resurrect the tournament.
"As part of IMG's ongoing evolution of its golf events business, the company is in the process of re-imagining its Australian Masters event to ensure the delivery of a world-class experience," David Rollo, vice president and director of golf for IMG Australia and New Zealand, said in a news release March 30.
"To best execute a change of this scale, IMG today announced that the Australian Masters will not be played in 2016. IMG will unveil its new plans for the event in the coming months.”
Australian Geoff Ogilvy called the end of the Masters “a shame," adding, "it was like it was dying a slow death (the last few years). You felt like it was treading water.”
But the news comes at a time, Ogilvy said, when the Australian Open, which he won in 2010, is better than ever, “one of the best tournaments in the world,” so he is optimistic about a future for the Australian Masters.
“Melbourne can handle a big event,” he said.
– Jim McCabe contributed
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