Ogilvy feels for golf-starved young pros

Murray Wenzel |

Geoff Ogilvy hopes the time wasted waiting for Australian golf’s restart has made the next wave of talent more resilient.

The Australian PGA Championship will return to Royal Queensland Golf Club on Thursday in Brisbane, more than two years after Adam Scott lifted the Joe Kirkwood Cup at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast.

The inaugural Australian WPGA Championship will run within the event, with men and women in mixed groups and an even $180,000 winner’s cheque for both events.

Both the last two men’s and women’s Australian Open were cancelled due to COVID, while many other major events have been scrapped and social golf banned for long periods in Ogilvy’s native Victoria.

The US Open champion and three-time World Golf Championships winner enjoyed a stellar career in the USA before returning home in 2019.

He will feature alongside emerging Australian Min Woo Lee in the tournament’s return this week, sympathetic of what his younger rivals have been through since.

“We had golf then we didn’t, had it, didn’t,” he said.

“I feel a lot for these kids 19, 20, 21-years-old that were about to get on the airplane and go to a Q-school or join a tour.

“It’s been put on hold and is tough, really awful time for that to happen but it’ll build resilience and the desire would have got stronger.”

He said Australian success abroad in both men’s and women’s ranks – most recently earlier this week in Hawaii with Cameron Smith’s record-breaking US PGA Tour win – had also helped.

“Australians have won 20 or so tournaments in the last two years, incredible really and they’re all friends (with the players in the Australian PGA Championship), so it’s pretty inspirational,” he said.

“The guys in Japan have spent two years in hotel rooms … it’s been tough, but feels like we’re in a really good state now.”

The rescheduling of the event to January has ruled out the attendance of any US-based stars, like Scott and two-time winner Smith.

COVID-19 has also taken its toll, with LPGA drawcards Stephanie Kyriacou and Sarah Kemp both contracting the virus and ruled out on Wednesday.

Male contenders Matt Guyatt and Zach Kelly were also scratched after positive tests on Wednesday.

But Ogilvy, who created his own four-course-in-four days Sandbelt Invitational last year, said the entry list was irrelevant.

“All pros are great players in my opinion and the focus should be on building great events,” he said.

“We’ve had this all-or-nothing approach where unless there is top-10 players it’s not worth having.

“People want to see guys do what they can’t do and everybody here can do that and everyone here is impressive.

“And you go for the contest and that doesn’t matter if it’s 1000 in the world versus 900.”

World No.49 and Scottish Open champion Lee will tee off at 6.45am AEST alongside LPGA Tour star Su Oh and Victorian PGA champion Blake Windred.