Late Masters an issue for Aust Open: Day

A rescheduled Masters at Augusta in November may be a roadblock for stars like Jason Day and Marc Leishman to return home for the Australian Open.

07-May-2020 By Evin Priest, Australian Associated Press
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Jason Day says he would love to face off against Adam Scott at the Australian Open but the late-season Masters could complicate Australia's top male golfers returning this year.

Day and countrymen Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith have been urged by former tour pro Mike Clayton to help Australian tournaments in a time of need by returning to play this summer without the need for a big appearance money cheque.

With less likelihood of getting major foreign stars here than usual, the presence of Australia's big guns would be a huge boost.

But that will prove difficult with the US PGA Tour and organisers of the majors rescheduling events postponed due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The British Open was cancelled while the US PGA Championship will be played in August, the US Open in September and the Masters in November.

The Australian Open at Melbourne's Kingston Heath and Australian PGA Championship in Queensland are likely to be held in the weeks after the Masters.

Former world No.1 Day says that is a big obstacle for the Australian Open.

"With regards to Mike Clayton's comments, I understand where he is coming from because some of the Aussie guys get paid to go down there," Day told AAP from Ohio.

"But I have to play my minimum 20 (US Tour) events to fulfil contracts and if I play the Masters at Augusta and still have to three events to play, it may put Australian Open in jeopardy."

Day has faced criticism for playing just three Australian Opens as a professional but welcomed the possibility of a showdown with Scott if able to return.

The two major winners have not been in contention at the same Open since the 2013 edition at Royal Sydney and Scott said last week he "absolutely" still hoped to play in Australia this summer.

Five-time US PGA Tour winner Leishman says he will definitely chase a maiden Australian Open victory if Australian travel restrictions allow.

But he insists it won't be about the money.

"Mike is entitled to his opinion and I respect it," Leishman told AAP from his Virginia Beach home.

"I can't talk for the other guys but I don't play in Australia for the money. We play for so much here in the US that the Australian tournaments are not about appearance money.

"I want to be home. I love Australia. I love Kingston Heath and playing in Australia in front of our crowds.

"If I can get back without having to undergo a two-week quarantine, I'll be playing the Australian Open."

Former US Tour player-turned commentator Paul Gow said appearances fees were essential to modern golf tournaments.

"I don't have a problem with appearance money because our Aussie players earn every cent and some of them even put the money back into charities," Gow told AAP.

"About half of the money Adam has received in appearance fees in Australia during the past few years has been put straight back into the Adam Scott Foundation, which aims to fund kids between high school and university.

"The foundation currently has 16 kids in Australian universities on scholarships.

"The work that's involved, it's an entire week of playing golf, functions, speeches and golf clinics.

"It's more than just turning up and we are sucking so much out of the orange," Gow said.

"Our players winning in the US, particularly the majors, and getting media coverage grows the game far more than coming down to Australia."


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