MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian golf celebrated Jason Day’s return to the top of the world rankings this week but domestically the sport struggles to hit the same heights with a marquee event in Melbourne ditched on Wednesday.
The Australian Masters was first held in 1979 and has been won in the past by major champions Tiger Woods, Bernhard Langer, Greg Norman, Adam Scott and Justin Rose but organizers IMG said the event needed an overhaul and would not be staged this year.
“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.”
The A$750,000 ($574,000) Masters was last held in November at the Huntingdale Golf Club and won by Australian Peter Senior, who, at 56, became the oldest winner in the event’s history.
World number six Scott finished fifth behind Senior and his appearances in recent years had helped boost a tournament which fell off the European Tour schedule in 2009.
Scott was meant to be joined in the field by multiple major winner Ernie Els last year but the South African, currently ranked 219 in the world, opted to stay home with family.
Meanwhile, the Australian Open has been able to attract the top names in the game, including Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth in recent years.
The Masters void leaves 14 events on the 2016 PGA Tour of Australasia calendar this year with the seventh stop scheduled for Papua New Guinea next month.
Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O'Brien