Allenby's absence won't make or break Australian PGA
BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2002 Australian PGA Championship | Preview | 18 Oct 2002
The news in the last day or so that Robert Allenby has decided to bypass the Australian PGA Championship to accept on an invitation to the Nedland Challenge in South Africa has met with mixed reaction in Australia.
Some are saying he has an obligation to the game here at a time when the Australasian PGA Tour needs as much support as it can get while others are saying that as a professional golfer he has every right to play where he sees his career best advantaged.
Another factor in the equation when assessing the relative rights or wrongs of Allenby’s decision is the reported verbal agreement between Allenby and tournament promoter Tony Roosenburg of SFX Sports. Roosenburg suggests that a gentlemans agreement made at the British Open this year was in his mind a commitment by Allenby to play. Allenby on the other hand has stated that he had never made a written commitment and that he has very right on that basis to to chase what is the almost outrageous prizemoney available at Sun City, effectively just for teeing it up. You can form your own judgement on the rights or wrongs of that. Last place in the Nedland Challenge offers more than the first place money at the Australian PGA and there is the opportunity with a win to secure $US2,000,000. I would suggest that every other player in the PGA field may well have chosen the same option.
Allenby’s commitment to Australian golf can not be questioned. In an era when several of his peers have, at times, been reluctant to support Australian golf without the lure of a fairly significant financial enticement, he has regularly returned to Australia to play leading events. He has also more often than not performed with distinction when he has. He has won the Australian PGA the last two years and has regularly played well at the Australian Open winning in 1994 and having other good finishes at Kingston Heath and Royal Adelaide.
I tire of the notion that a given player has an obligation to repay his country from where he got his start in the game. Allenby has repayed Australian golf many times not only by his preparedness to return regularly for the events mentioned, but also by his very deeds on the golf courses of the world. He is now clearly Australia’s number one player both in terms of his world ranking and his money list position the last few years in the US. Surely by reaching the pinnacle of your sport your are helping to promote the game in your own country. There is nothing like successful role models for kids to aim at.
Instead of castigating him for turning his back on the Australian PGA perhaps we should be patting him on that very back for reaching a status in world golf that affords him the opportunity to receive invitations to events the significance of the Nedland Challenge. One look at the field there highlights the exalted company against whom he will be competing.
The Australian PGA Championship will be a good event with or without Robert Allenby. John Daly and Greg Norman fall into Tony Roosenburgs category of major winners, are thus eligible for appearance money and will therefore take their place in the field. In addition Stuart Appleby, Craig Parry, Peter Lonard, Rod Pampling, John Senden, Geoff Ogilvy and Greg Chalmers all with successful seasons in the US will be there as will Adam Scott, Peter O’Malley and Stephen Leaney who have flown the Australian flag in Europe. This core group of quality players will be joined by so many bright young stars of the future.
It is likely that several New Zealanders will also play such as last week’s US winner Phil Tataurangi and so, apart from the Johnnie Walker Classic at Hope Island in 1997, it stacks up as the strongest field assembled ever for any event in Queensland.
I say well done to Robert Allenby and all the best to the Australian PGA. Both should have very good weeks in late November even without each other. Robert Allenby will, I am sure, once again grace the fairways of the Australian PGA in future years, when there is not such an opportunity of not so small fortunes elsewhere, and we should welcome him with open arms when he does.