By PGA of Australia
Experienced Australian and New Zealand Tour Professionals are excited to see the inaugural Northern Territory PGA Championship tee off this week.
Announced in May this year, Darwin is the newest stop on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and a strong field has assembled to contest the title.
Stalwarts of the Tour are pleased to see the Tour expanding to provide further opportunities to players in the Australasia region.
“Having a new event to play in Australia is exciting and a great opportunity for all of us Professionals,” said New Zealander Michael Long, a seven time winner around the world.
“Events like the Northern Territory PGA Championship are crucial to the development of the next generation of Australasian superstars of world golf.”
But it’s not just the career opportunities that the Northern Territory PGA Championship brings, it’s also the chance to see Darwin which has players excited.
“The Northern Territory PGA Championship and the other state tournaments are vital to players on the Aussie Tour and new events are always welcome,” said David Bransdon, the current Isuzu Queensland Open champion.
“But to be in the Northern Territory and in particular Darwin is something new to me in my 21 years as a Pro. I’ve never played golf in Darwin.”
This week, Bransdon has winning on his mind after spending time in Europe on the Challenge Tour over the Australian winter.
“The Challenge Tour was really good; it was a great opportunity to play regularly. It was something I haven’t done before in my golf career and it was fun hanging out with the other Aussie guys over there like Daniel Gaunt, Scott Arnold and on the odd occasion Dimi Papadatos,” added Brandson, whose best finish in Europe was a tied 7th at the Czech Challenge.
“But after 10 weeks of playing okay, I didn’t feel my game was suited to playing the Challenge Tour. I decided to come home and focus on local tournaments in the lead up to the Aussie summer of golf.”
“My aim this week is to win. I’m at a point in my career where I’m very comfortable being in contention here in Australia. Having had some success recently in Australia I’m very keen to add wins to my resume, with my ultimate goal to win one of the big tournaments; the Aussie Open or Aussie PGA.”
Meanwhile Long is using the Northern Territory PGA Championship as a way to get back into competitive form.
“My form in the first half of the year was very solid with the obvious highlight being the Oates Vic Open win at the beginning of the year,” added Long, who won the Oates Vic Open in a playoff in February.
“But I am not sure what to expect in Darwin. I have had a good break from golf and have done little practice for the last month.”
“This tournament will be the start to the second half of the year for me. I will tee it up on the first hole and see what happens.”
A new tournament on the schedule also provides an opportunity for players to explore a new part of Australia.
Yesterday (Monday), Tour Professionals Steve Jones, Kristopher Mueck, Grant Thomas, Ryan Lynch and Rick Kulacz got up close and personal with some of the Northern Territory wildlife, taking on the cage of death at Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin (Pictured at top).
“I have always wanted to do that, I did the shark dive a few years ago so after that, crocodiles were next on the list,” said Jones.
“It was just a surreal experience, it wasn’t scary more just amazing to be up so close to a croc.”
“You always know that they are huge but when you are staring one in the eyes it really gives you a new perspective.”
The Northern Territory PGA Championship will be played at Palmerston Golf Course from 11-14 August.
In addition to the winner’s share of the $150,000 prize purse, the champion will receive Official World Golf Ranking Points and be fully exempt onto the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia until the end of the 2017 season.
Photo: A number of pros took the opportunity to come face to face with some of the locals at Crocosaurus Cove, a well known tourist attraction in the centre of Darwin city. Photo: PGA of Australia