Griffin headlines NSW PGA at Mt Broughton

The NSW PGA Championship commences Thursday at the Mt Broughton Country Club in the Southern Highlands and for many represents the perfect prelude for next week’s Australian Open at The Lake Golf Club in Sydney.

Defending champion Matthew Guyatt will miss the tournament and is in Japan for the Q-School final round attempting to get back his ticket for 2013.

Matt Griffin Matt Griffin (Credit: Anthony Powter)

Craig Parry, Matthew Griffin and fellow 2012 OneAsia champion Nick Cullen and BMW NZ Open winner, Jake Higginbottom, are entered in the 132 player field.

Higginbottom, who won last week’s NZ Open as an amateur, made the decision yesterday to turn professional on the back of a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour of Australasia and OneAsia.

Higginbottom with his win in New Zealand is also guaranteed entry to the second round of US and European qualifying school in 2013.

Matt Griffin, who is one of the tournament favourites this week, also has reason to celebrate even before a ball has been hit at the majestic Mt Broughton layout – which is not only one of the longest, but toughest, in the country.

Griffin, alongside fellow Aussie Terry Pilkadaris, Dutchman Guido van der Valk and Malaysia’s Anis Hassan, have won their year-long court battle with the Asian Tour after they were fined and banned from competing in Asian Tour events because they played on the competing OneAsia Tour.

“It’s great to get this judgment in our favour,” said Griffin.

“All we ever wanted from this action was the right to play golf wherever we had earned the right,” said Griffin this morning. “Hopefully this decision will be a good result for all golfers playing within the Asian region and open up more opportunities for the game.”

The ruling out of the Singapore High Court directs the Asian Tour to pay back fines and legal fees, while the players’ lawyer also said they may be able to claim for damages as compensation for potential earnings lost.

Also in the field are Won Joon Lee, Bradley Hughes, Mitch Brown, Marcus Cain, Anthony Summers, Jordan Sherratt and rookie professionals Ryan Fox, Daniel Nisbet, Ben Campbell, Matt Stieger and Ryan McCarthy.

A number of amateurs received exempt status including, Ricky Kato, Jordan Zunic, and Brett Drewitt. Dimi Papadatos, Zac Stolz and Callan O’Reilly pre-qualified for the tournament, which is scheduled to finish on Sunday.

The NSW PGA Championship launches an exciting three week stretch of golf in Australia preceding both the Australian Open and the Australian PGA Championships.

The field will by vying for their share of the $100,000 prize purse plus exemptions into some of the biggest tournaments on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

Past winners of the NSW PGA Championship include the tour namesake Norman Von Nida (1936, ’46, ’48 ’51), seven times winner Kel Nagle (1952, ’53,’55, ’56, ’59 ’71), dual winner Peter Senior (1984, ’87) and more recently Tim Wood (2008), Aaron Townsend (2009), and Steven Bowditch (2010).