Stephen Pitt is hoping to attract some International players to the Australian Open.Next year’s Australian Open will go head to head with Tiger Woods’ Hero Challenge in the Bahamas – and officials believe that’s a good thing.
The 2019 Open, to be held at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney, will take place from December 5-8, a week before the Presidents Cup in Melbourne.
While the clash rules out the possibility of Woods returning to contend for the Stonehaven Cup, Golf Australia boss Stephen Pitt believes the timing of the national championship can help secure many of the game’s other big names.
The Woods-captained United States team will take on The Internationals just four days after the Open at Royal Melbourne.
“This is great news for the Australian Open and we’re excited about what this means for Australian golf fans,” Pitt said on Tuesday.
“That was a critical moment in 2011 in terms of the Australian Open being before the Presidents Cup. We were able to leverage that pretty well.
“We had a star-studded field that year and we’re really confident about doing the same in 2019.”
With Woods’ field limited to just 18 players, Pitt is confident the 2019 edition will attract a raft of the world’s premier golfers.
“Last time I think we got nine out of the 12 US players,” he said.
“This time around the thought is probably that will flip and we will be targeting International players.”
Australian PGA Championship officials had also wanted to lock in December 5-8 for their event next year.
“We had very fruitful discussions with the PGA of Australia to reach this decision and admire the respect they’ve shown the national championship,” Pitt said.
“It’s an important decision. It’s the right decision for golf and I applaud them for making that decision.”
Having spent the past few days defending the 2018 Open field, which is devoid of Australian golf’s big three of Jason Day, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman, Pitt came under fire on Tuesday for the event being staged in Sydney for a 14th straight year in 2019.
“It’s hard to move and that’s been the reality of tournament golf in Australia,” he said.
“State government partnerships are absolutely critical to the health of the tournament.
“What I would say is that while the Australian Open hasn’t been around the country (in recent years), we have seen other tournaments around the country.
“We’ve had the PGA (regularly) in Queensland, Perth has got the Sixes, Melbourne’s had its share with different things; World Cup and Presidents Cup, and Adelaide’s had the women’s Open.
“So there’s been a good spread around the country.”