13 Jan 2022 | Professional golf |

Major players: how alliance provides path to the top

by PGA of Australia

Gavin Kirkman, Rodger Davis image
The PGA's Gavin Kirkman and Rodger Davis at this week's announcement. Photo: PGA

By Tony Webeck

More Aussies contending for majors and an increase in the numbers playing on both the DP World Tour and PGA Tour.

These are the key drivers of the extension of the strategic alliance between the DP World Tour and the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia announced on Wednesday.

The strategic alliance will impact Australia’s best and brightest golfers instantly with the top three at season’s end on the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit not otherwise exempt to be granted cards for the 2022/2023 DP World Tour season.

For the current top two money winners – Gippsland Super 6 champion Jack Thompson and Victorian PGA winner Blake Windred – this week’s Fortinet Australian PGA Championship now takes on extra significance.

The $180,000 first prize has the potential to be life-changing not only for the financial injection it provides but the pathway that has now opened up to a tour that in 2022 will play a total of 47 tournaments in 27 different countries for more than $200 million in prize money.

That access ultimately provides an entry point to golf’s major championships and why PGA of Australia CEO Gavin Kirkman believes this alliance is in the best interests of players in the Australasian region.

“Our focus was on finding out what was going to be best for our players and professionals on our Tour,” Kirkman said.

“Whether it’s the pathway through the DP World Tour, from Challenge Tour to DP World, to Korn Ferry, to the PGA TOUR and then to play major championships.

“Min Woo Lee is probably the perfect example. Min Woo’s gone from winning the Vic Open, the Scottish Open and now finishing 49 in the world.

“Along with Lucas Herbert and Cam Davis, he’s going to play his first Masters at Augusta this year and we feel that this pathway and strategic alliance with these Tours is going to be best for the PGA Tour of Australasia.”

A seven-time winner on what was formerly known as the European Tour, PGA of Australia Chair Rodger Davis highlighted not only the connection this alliance provides to golf’s two biggest tours but the governing bodies who administer the four men’s major championships.

“This ecosystem, it’s not just the tours,” Davis said.

“The golf ecosystem involves Augusta, the USGA and the R&A.

“This alliance that we’ve done will make sure that we are part of that ecosystem and that is the way you start all the pathways for our young players coming through.”

Another key feature of the alliance will see the Australian PGA Championship return to the DP World Tour in the latter months of 2022 at Royal Queensland Golf Club and for a tournament record $2 million.

That co-sanction is confirmed through until 2026 and there is already talk of expanding that to as many as three tournaments during the term of the agreement.

“You will see additional DP World co-sanctioned events here on the Australasian Tour,” Kirkman confirmed.

“What the Tours are looking for, they want us to work together as a Tour but to create events that we can tail into co-sanctioned events,” said Kirkman.

“We’ve seen the challenge of Covid where we’ve lost Fiji and we’ve lost events in Perth, but we can revisit that and look at getting events up to a level to co-sanction and be part of the DP World Tour.

“It’s a little bit of both there – create new events, but also develop current events into co-sanctioned events to get these exemptions and the best pathways.”

The pathway provided by the alliance is not only to the DP World Tour. There will be places for five PGA Tour of Australasia players into the final stage of the Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school and five spots into DP World Tour events played in Asia, starting with next month’s Hero Indian Open.

“We’re going to see growth over the next month for the current season and we’re also then going to see growth for the next five years,” Kirkman added.

“It puts us in a really strong position to make our Tour sustainable.”

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