Bummer: IMG Cancels '16 Aussie Masters, Future Bleak?

From an unbylined Reuters report on the cancellation of the Australian Masters by tournament operator IMG, which promises news of an "overhaul." This, even though the PGA Tour is bringing the World Cup to the sandbelt's Kingston Heath in 2016.

From the report on the demise of an event with a great history, won in thrilling fashion last year by Peter Senior:

"As part of IMG's ongoing evolution of its golf events business, the company is in the process of re-imagining its Australian Masters event to ensure the delivery of a world-class experience," David Rollo, vice president and director of golf for IMG Australia and New Zealand said in a statement carried widely in Australian media.

"To best execute a change of this scale, IMG today announced that the Australian Masters will not be played in 2016. IMG will unveil its new plans for the event in the coming months."

Another Young Gun To Watch: Ryan Ruffels Turns Pro

In the wealth of riches department, golf gets another intriguing young player to keep an eye on, as Golf Australia product (but American citizen too) Ryan Ruffels turns pro.

Mark Hayes with the full story on Ruffels signing with Wasserman and Nike, and planning a hard push for a PGA Tour card. He makes his first two starts at Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach.

Ruffels, for most of the past year ranked in the world’s top 10 amateurs despite completing his Year 12 studies at Melbourne’s Haileybury College, said the decision was made not long after bad weather robbed him of a chance to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in October.

While he tied for second in Hong Kong, only a win that would have won him direct entry to The Masters in April would have kept him in amateur ranks.

“It was one of my big goals to play in a major championship as an amateur, but that was really it,” said Ruffels, who dismissed suggestions he was turning pro too early.

“For a while now, as much as I’m 17, I feel like I’ve been playing the amateur and junior stuff for a long time.

“I played my first amateur at 12 and the men’s interstate series not long after that, so as much as people are going to say, `He’s only 17, why is he turning pro?’, I feel like the time is right.

“I’ve done what I needed to do as an amateur.”

Ruffels Tweeted his bag, which includes the Golf Australia logo.

His announcement press conference:


Kingston Heath! World Cup Returns To Team Format, Epic Course

One of the world's premier designs will host the World Cup this November with 28 two-man teams comprising the field.

While any format that's not individual stroke play is exciting, the Sandbelt return is the best part of the announcement, as Kingston Heath is easily one of the world's great designs and arguably the best outside of St. Andrews on flat ground.

World Cup of Golf returns to team format
at Kingston Heath Golf Club, November 21-27, 2016
Melbourne, Victoria, AUS – Tournament officials announced today that the 58th edition of the World Cup of Golf will be played at Kingston Heath Golf Club, with the format returning to team play (two-man teams) from 28 different countries squaring off on November 21-27, 2016, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.  One of the most historic global events in the game, the World Cup of Golf has been played 57 times in 25 countries and will carry an $8 million (US) purse with the first-place team splitting $2.56 million. The event boasts an impressive and prestigious list of winners that includes the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Davis Love III, Fred Couples, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Arnold Palmer, Bernhard Langer, Sam Snead, Peter Thomson, Ben Hogan, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Jason Day, among many others.
Kingston Heath is one of Australia’s best golf courses and consistently ranked among the top 50 courses in the world. The course is renowned for its natural charm and strategies created by its superbly crafted greens and bunkers.  The signature par-3 15th hole is one of the classic short holes in Australia, if not the world.
Kingston Heath has hosted numerous prestigious events over its history including the men’s Australian Open, (1948, 1957, 1970, 1983, 1989, 1995, 2000), Women’s Australian Open (2008), Australian Matchplay Championship (1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992) and the Australian Masters (2009, 2012).  Winners of these events include names like Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Ian Baker-Finch, Greg Norman, Peter Senior, Karrie Webb and Gary Player.
“The World Cup of Golf has a long and storied history as one of the true international events in our sport,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “On behalf of the International Federation of PGA Tours, we are thrilled that a course with the reputation and standing such as Kingston Heath will serve as the tournament’s host venue in 2016. The fans in the Sandbelt region of Australia are some of the best in the world and our players consider themselves extremely fortunate every time they are able to play in an event of this stature in the Melbourne area. Our thanks go out to the Victorian Government for their partnership in both the past and future events.”

"The story of Jones and Barter is extraordinary."

With so much talk of musical instructors and swing change gurus, the story of Gary Barter and Matt Jones is indeed an extraordinary one. (If you watched the coverage you saw Barter on the putting green with one of his many pupils in contention Sunday at The Australian.)

Mark Hayes goes into great detail on the partnership that long dreamed of winning the Australian Open, and that has remained together since Jones was a 15-year-old new pupil of Barter's.

Jones, who had his first hole-in-one aged six at Kareela Golf Club in Sydney’s southern suburbs, was introduced at age 15 when his mother Vicki’s catering business had cause to serve Nicole Barter’s law firm.

“They would bring Vicki in to make some food for the meetings and she’s a fabulous cook and it just came from there,” Gary Barter recalled.

“Matt’s mum said to my wife, ‘Can I get my son to get a golf lesson from your husband?’.

“Brett (Matt’s brother who played this week) gets forgotten and he came out as well. They lived about five minutes from our home and many nights Matt would be in my garage hitting balls."

Australian Open Wrap: Jones Hangs On To Beat Scott, Spieth

Matt Jones continues to make a name for himself, adding a prestigious Australian Open title to his win in Houston and fine play at this year's PGA Championship. The win also earns him a spot in the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon.

Martin Blake with the game story detailing the rocky round that saw the hometown hero seemingly try to lose the title right from the start. But he had help in the cause, as Mike Clayton noted in a look at winning ugly, even calling some of the decision making of the "schoolboy" variety.

Caddie Shannon Wallis talked about the key moments of the round.

Jones, Rod Pampling (61!) and Nick Cullen earned berths into The Open.

Mark Hayes details an unusually good low amateur race, won by Ryan Ruffels over Bryson DeChambeau and Jordan Niebrugge.

The 2016 Emirates Australian Open will be played at Royal Sydney Golf Club, reports Hayes.

The round four highlights:

Great Turnout: Australian Open 100th Anniversary Celebration

Even though they're now well into the Australian Open, it's worth noting the impressive turnout of former champions to the 100th anniversary celebration. Even more inspiring was Jack Newton launching a drive off the first tee as many of the other former winners did. Maybe some of golf's Hall Of Famers will note this next time they are taking a pass on the induction ceremony? Na...

Martin Blake with details from the ceremonial gathering to celebrate a historic event.

A video of the day:

From six-time champion Nicklaus:

And Jack Nicklaus, unable to make it, but sending his best wishes via video:

Spieth Arrives To Defend Down Under, Takes In Sandbelt's Finest

Just when you think the year is slowing down, there's Jordan Spieth arriving in Australia early to hang out at the Sandbelt courses, work with his instructor and caddie and in general, prepare for 2016. As we discussed on Golf Central, the sense of urgency is impressive.

Mark Hayes with the details of Spieth's early Australian Open prep, and Martin Blake with the best from Spieth's press conference including where he's displayed the Stonehaven Cup.

The relaxed tone of his press conference suggests the 22-year-old is refreshed and rejuvenated from the mini-combine of the last week where he played "bucket list" courses Kingston Heath and Royal Melbourne. Also noteworthy is a new look from Under Armour. Multiple colors! Woohoo!

The full press conference (he talks Sandbelt golf at the 7:30 mark, the importance of the Olympics at 17:30):

DeChambeau Looking Like An Amateur In Dress Only

And that's a great thing!

As U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau prepares for his second week of pro golf in Australia, the second place finisher at the Australian Masters is pulling on the heartstrings of longtime golf fans by actually dressing like the way amateurs playing in pro events used to dress.

Instead of wearing corporate-logoed and scripted clothing, DeChambeau is sporting his Walker Cup team uniforms and maintaining a trend of golf-appropriate clothing.

Before he slipped into contention Sunday, DeChambeau grinded out a 72 Saturday and spoke to Ian Ransom of Reuters after his round. Not much new ground was covered for those fascinated by DeChambeau's uniform-length clubs and interest in The Golfing Machine, but it's still a good read.

Golf Channel has added an encore presentation of the 2015 Australian Masters won by 56-year-old Peter Senior, Tuesday at 2 pm ET.

Forward Press: No Shortage Of Spieth & An Apology To Readers!

This week's Forward Press previews the unofficial Jordan Spieth week, as the 22-year-old Texan shows up Down Under all week and on Fox Thankgiving day.

That, plus news of a Australian Masters replay and my deepest apology for a huge oversight last week. Huge! I hope I can win back your trust.

Old Guys Rule Files: Peter Senior (56) Wins Aussie Masters

When Peter Senior last won the Australian Masters the Internet, largely an unknown U.S. government-owned system, was accessed by new dial-up services America Online and Prodigy. They mailed CD's to let us gain access. Oh, and Jordan Spieth was two.

Twenty years later and with wins in five decades, including the Australian Senior Open, Senior is again the Australian Masters champion, holding off the likes of Andrew Evans, Bryson DeChambeau, John Senden and Adam Scott with a clutch 8-foot par putt on his final hole.

Matt Murnane with the first report for the Sydney Morning Herald, though I suspect we'll get some fun reads putting his incredible win into perspective.