Allenby, Ogilvy not surprised by Masters axing

Houston, Texas: Australian ‘Triple Crown’ winner Robert Allenby and past U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy say they’re not at all surprised the Australian Masters has been axed from the 2016 Australasian Tour schedule.

Event organisers IMG (International Management Group) announced earlier this week they were in the ‘process of re-imaging the Australian Masters and will unveil new plans in coming months’.

Robert Allenby Robert Allenby (Credit: www.golffile.ie)

Allenby captured his first Australian Masters in 2003 and two years later created Australian golfing history when he defeated now double Masters champion, Bubba Watson in a play-off to become the only player to win the ‘Australian Golf Triple Crown’ with the Australian Open, Australian PGA and Australian Masters titles.

“It’s been known IMG, who have been backing the event, have being doing so at a loss for many years and if you are running any business at a loss you eventually are going to have to pull the pin,” said Allenby after an opening round 72 on day one of the Shell Houston Open in Texas.

“The event has struggled recently to get a big-name sponsor to commit for something like five years.”

“So it’s a real shame as the Australian Masters has so much history having first been played in 1979 and with some of the greats having had their name added to the trophy including Greg (Norman) who won it six times and there’s internationals like Bernhard Langer, Mark O’Meara and Tiger Woods who also have won the Augusta Masters.”

“More recently, Scotty’s (Adam Scott) won it twice, Poults (Ian Poutler) and Monty (Colin Montgomerie) and Justin Rose have also been fitted with the gold jacket.”

“Of course, I was fortunate to win it twice and while I am delighted that probably no one else will be able to say they’ve won Australia’s ‘Big Three’ another part of me is terribly sad to see it go.”

“So it’s just a real shame that Australian golf will not see ‘The Big Three’ anymore and that’s what is going to hurt so much, and to lose one of those three is a real pity, and also to a city like Melbourne that is billed as the ‘Sporting Capital of Australia’.”

Ogilvy captured an Australian PGA title in 2008 and in 2010 won the Australian Open but the now nine-time PGA Tour winner, and also a double WGC title-holder, failed to lift the unique large crystal globe Australian Masters trophy.

However he still recalls vividly as a 13-year old acting as a marshal on the second hole at Huntingdale during the 1990 Australian Masters.

“Greg (Norman) was playing against (Nick) Faldo in the last match on the last day and the excitement of their match was incredible and with Greg winning his sixth Australian Masters, and with Faldo competing as the Open Champion,” said Ogilvy after he birdied his closing two holes in a score of 70 also on day one of the Shell Houston Open.

“So it’s a big shame we’re losing the event but it’s been kind of dying a slow death the last five or six years when they took the event away from Huntingdale and started bouncing it around other courses in Melbourne and that really was the turning point.”

“Every year they were grinding to find a sponsor but would always announce one very late, and the event just seemed like it was simply treading water trying to stay afloat.”

“Maybe it can be reborn as Melbourne needs a big golf tournament as it is a major sports city.”

“But then on the opposite side of the coin, the Australian Open in Sydney has now become one of the legitimate tournaments in the world again given the fact that Rory (McIlroy) has played the last few years and won in 2013.

“Then Jordan Spieth came to Sydney and his win in late 2014 was very much the catalyst for what we saw him achieve last year over here in the States just as much Rory’s win a year earlier saw him accomplish so much in 2014.

“But then I don’t know the economics of what was going on with the Australian Masters so hopefully there will be a newer, bigger event and it will be staged in Melbourne.”

And 2010 Australian Masters winner Stuart Appleby echoed the remarks of his two compatriots.

“I’m not surprised any tournament could find its way onto the chopping block in Australia and I guess everything has to go through cycles and that’s the case with the Australian Masters,” said Appleby who birdied two of his three closing holes in a 69 in Houston.

“The good aspect is that for some 85 to 95% of its life the Australian Masters has been a banging tournament but for the last five years or so it’s simply struggled.”

“But as a kid growing up in Australian going to Huntingdale, and the same golf course, year after year to see some of the best players in the world compete was pretty cool.”