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Published 14 October 2012 16:27, Updated 16 October 2012 01:46
David Rollo said the international television coverage of the Perth International made it a compelling event for the Western Australian government to sponsor. Photo: Louise Kennerley
The first two large tournaments of the Australian golf season will go ahead without free-to-air television coverage, but the owner and promoter of those events is still confident they will be a success.
The four-tournament season begins on Thursday with the $2 million Perth International at the Lake Kurrinyup Country Club, the most lucrative of the four events and featuring international stars Jason Dufner, ranked number 10 in the world, and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel in the field.
The Perth event, and the Australian Masters beginning on November 15 at Kingston Heath Golf Club in Melbourne, will only broadcast on Fox Sports in Australia.
But David Rollo, vice-president and director of golf for IMG Australia, says the international coverage of the Perth International will make it a worthwhile exercise for the Western Australian government to support. “It’s co-sanctioned with the [PGA] European Tour so we’re looking at more than 1000 hours of coverage into 67 countries and up to 420 million homes. So it’s a great promotion showcase for WA tourism, which is why Eventscorp is backing the tournament.
Rollo also says the Fox Sports coverage should prove to be popular given it will be broadcast in prime time to the eastern states, given the time zone differences between WA and the rest of the country.
Owning both the Perth International, in its first year of a three-year contract with the WA government, and the Masters, has allowed IMG to strike deals with sponsors such as Crown, which owns casinos in Melbourne and Perth, to back both tournaments. He says corporate hospitality sales in Perth have been strong and is hopeful for crowds of about 40,000 over the four days for both this week and the Masters.
Rollo says the Australian golf season, which also includes the Australian Open from December 6 in Sydney and the Australian PGA on the Sunshine Coast the following week, has been enhanced by its proximity to south-east Asia. “It’s becoming part of the Asia-Pacific swing of events this time of year, which helps get players here. After Perth, Dufner will go to Malaysia and Schwartzel to China, for example. And then players will come back to Australia for the Masters.”
IMG has also managed to assemble a quality field for that, including the popular Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Australian Adam Scott, which Rollo says should make up as much as possible for not having Tiger Woods play the tournament this year after doing so for the past two years.
Otherwise, Rollo believes the strength of Australian golf on the course remains significant. “You look at the Scott’s and [Jason] Day’s and they will be at the upper echelons of world golf for some time. And the junior development is still very good, there is a lot of talent there. And as someone like Greg Norman inspired the Scotts and [Robert] Allenbys then you will find the Scotts and Days inspire the next generation.”