FEARS the 2011 JBWere Masters would be cancelled have been allayed with the official announcement the tournament will go ahead at the Victoria Golf Club mid December with current World No.1 Luke Donald as the headline drawcard.
The fate of the Masters has been in serious doubt since the tournament failed to get a calendar spot either side of the Presidents Cup to be played at Royal Melbourne from November 16 to 20.
The Australian Open at The Lakes in Sydney and the Australian PGA Championship at Coolum in Queensland got the coveted spots before and after the Cup respectively and had the opportunity to poach the golfing stars who would be Down Under as a result.
The Lakes snared Presidents Cup captains Greg Norman and Fred Couples, Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson while the PGA this week announced Norman, Day and Watson as major drawcards.
There were fears throughout the year that IMG, the owner and promoter of the Masters, might take the bats and balls and go home as a result of the “snub” but instead it has bounced back by shifting the event to December 15 to 18 and luring Donald, fellow countryman Ian Poulter and defending champion Stuart Appleby as initial signings.
“I have never played in Australia, but I have heard so many great things about the sandbelt courses, the people there, and the country’s culture,” Donald said as part of the official announcement.
Participant of the past two years Tiger Woods will not be making it back but the promoters have not ruled out him returning when the event reverts back to it regular mid-November time slot and sandbelt course venue rotation in the next few years.
IMG golf vice-president David Rollo told the Melbourne Herald Sun they were delighted to have already landed such big fish and hoped to attract one or more further top-class overseas players this year, as well as a strong Australian contingent, despite the tournament’s proximity to Christmas.
“We’re obviously thrilled … there’s been a fair bit of work behind the scenes to get us to this point,” Rollo told the Herald Sun.
“(After the schedule decisions) we’ve been trying to join all the dots …we’re really delighted with where we’ve got to,” he said.“It provides another opportunity for our fans to see the world’s best players and hopefully we can capitalise on the undoubted excitement that the Presidents Cup will generate for golf in Victoria and Australia.”
This will be the 33rd running of the Australian Masters, The first 30 were held at Huntingdale, the 2009 event at Kingston Heath and last year it was at the Victoria Golf Club.
Tickets to the 2011 JBWere Masters will be on sale from August at Ticketek.