Professional golf in Australasia has a rich history. In celebration of the events and the current and former players hailing from Oceania, today’s article will take a deep dive into the golfing scene from Australia and New Zealand.
Pro-Golf in Australasia: Historical Context
PGA Tour of Australasia events have primarily occurred in Australia and New Zealand. However, in previous seasons, there have been tournaments co-sanctioned with other tours, like the Johnnie Walker Classic, held in various countries, including India and Thailand.
In 2009, there was a notable increase in regular season tournaments after integrating former Von Nida Tour events. Typically, only tournaments originally on the tour schedule before the merger were eligible for world ranking points.
Starting from 2012, all events will now carry world ranking points. “State Based and Regional Tournaments” will receive a minimum of 6 points, whereas regular events offer 16 points. The prestigious Australian Open awards a minimum of 32 points to the winner. The tour’s most lucrative events are co-sanctioned with larger global tours such as the European Tour.
The Australian Open, Australian PGA Championship, and Fiji International also maintain higher prize funds as part of the OneAsia Tour. In Australia, the term “Triple Crown” also refers to winning the three major domestic championships: the Australian Open, the Australian Masters, and the Australian PGA Championship. Robert Allenby remains the only player to have achieved this remarkable feat in a single season, accomplishing it in 2005.
The New Zealand Open is the top golf tournament for men in New Zealand. It has been a consistent part of the tournament schedule for the PGA Tour of Australasia since the 1970s. The 2019 edition marked the 100th occurrence of the event. Starting in 2014, it was held as a pro-am tournament in February or March.
New Zealand’s Greatest
Tournament wins: 26
Majors: Two – Chevron Championship (2016) & Evian Championship (2015)
Highest ever ranking: 1st (WWGR)
Bo-Gyung Lydia Ko, a Korean-born player, is widely regarded as the most accomplished female golfer in New Zealand. In addition to her impressive record of 26 professional victories, she earned a silver medal in the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics and a bronze medal in the 2020 Olympics. She also became the youngest player, aged 17 (male or female), to be ranked No.1 in professional golf.
Ko has secured 19 LPGA Tour wins, 7 Ladies European Tour wins, 1 LPGA of Korea Tour win, and 5 ALPG Tour wins. Notably, she attained the prestigious title of the ‘No.1-ranked woman’ professional player on February 2, 2015, at the young age of 17 years and nine months. This remarkable achievement makes her the youngest female player ever to hold the top spot in the professional rankings.
Aged just 26 years old, Ko’s career is far from over, and betting providers in NZ regularly position the Kiwi representative with excellent odds to win it all. The competition has undoubtedly gotten stiffer in recent years, but after securing her 19th LPGA win in 2022 and her second ASLI title on the European Tour earlier this year, taking advantage of her sportsbook pricing is a wagering position that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Tournament wins: 76
Majors: Two – British Open (1986, 1993)
Highest ever ranking: 1st (OWGR)
Greg Norman was not just a two-time British Open champion but also a dominant force in the world of golf. With his impressive driving skills, daring shot-making ability, and impeccable touch, he left a lasting impact on the fairways. At age 21, he made a name for himself by winning the 1976 West Lakes Classic in Adelaide, beginning his incredible journey. Norman’s success extended beyond Australia, with numerous victories overseas that have become the stuff of legends.
It isn’t easy to highlight one specific achievement as his most remarkable, as his impressive accomplishments spanned both singular moments and extended periods of time. But perhaps the most noteworthy time during his career was when he became the first Australian to be ranked No.1 globally, with 331 weeks sitting on top.
Tournament wins: 31
Majors: Masters Tournament (2013)
Highest ever ranking: 1st (OWGR)
Scott is regarded as one of Australia’s most accomplished golfers, boasting an impressive array of accolades. Among his many triumphs, he has emerged victorious in various PGA Tour competitions, notably clinching the coveted title at the 2013 Masters Tournament through a thrilling sudden-death playoff against Angel Cabrera, thus ending Australia’s 79-year drought of capturing a green jacket.
Additionally, Scott has consistently represented Australia in the prestigious President’s Cup team while frequently returning to his home country to partake in the Australian Open and Australian PGA tournaments.
Notably, Scott has garnered considerable fame for utilising a long putter, which was pivotal in his initial accomplishments.
The Future of Pro-Golf in Australia
If Ryan Fox and Daniel Hillier can collect PGA Tour cards for next season, it will mark the first time New Zealand has had multiple players competing on the tour in over a decade.
With Lydia Ko continuing to compete at the highest level of women’s golf, the future of pro-gold in NZ looks bright, and there’s no guessing how far this group of talents can go.
For the Aussies, the sky is truly the limit. Australia’s No.1 Cameron Smith competes with the world’s best. Harrison Crowe can maintain his position in the professional ranks, and Grace Kim established herself as a bona fide LPGA Tour player after one season. Not forgetting the likes of Minjee Lee, Hayden Hopewell, and the gifted prodigies Jeffrey Guan and Amelia Harris.
Fans will want to keep their eyes on the Australia and New Zealand Open and all of the incredible talent competing at a professional level as they rise through the rankings. Not everyone will make the cut, but you can guarantee that more than a handful of Australasian representatives will sink a putt.