GOLF is getting a Twenty20-style shake-up in an innovative Perth shootout that could become the sport’s blueprint for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The new World Super 6 Perth tournament from February 16-19 is guaranteed worldwide attention because it is co-sanctioned with the influential European Tour.
After 54 holes of traditional strokeplay, the tournament will transform into a series of exciting six-hole matchplay knockouts for the final round.
More than that, an exciting nearest-the-pin tie-breaker has been created to resolve squared matches at the Lake Karrinyup Golf Club like rugby league’s golden point.
The dramatic change of pace is visionary and much-needed to potentially hook new fans and a wider television audience.
“This is an exciting day for international golf because the World Super 6 Perth is a tournament which will change the way people view golf,” said Brian Thorburn, chief executive of the PGA Tour of Australasia.
“Cricket has Twenty20, rugby union has sevens, netball has Fast 5 and now golf has the World Super 6 Perth.”
As flagged by News Corp last weekend, the event will fill an empty slot on the European Tour from February 16-19, with WA suiting the schedule from a geographical standpoint.
The tour sees players at the Maybank Championship Malaysia the week prior to the Perth event before heading on to South Africa’s Joburg Open.
The WA tournament replaces the Perth International, which has been held at the Lake Karrinyup course across the past four spring / summer periods.
After all the hard work that the game’s powerbrokers put in to getting golf back into the Olympics for Rio this year, they served up the same humdrum 72-hole format as every other week on the calendar.
It took the soaring pride and wonderful words of England’s Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose to really elevate how much golf at the Olympics meant.
If the World Super 6 Perth format clicks, it is exactly what Olympic golf needs … 54 holes to sort out a top 24 and a knockout duel for medals on the final day.
“We are thrilled to participate in this because, at the European Tour, we believe that golf needs to look at new and innovative formats,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said.
A regular cut will be made after 36 holes before the field is reduced to the top 24 players after the third round.
The bottom 16 players will duel in eight six-hole matchplay knockouts to determine who advances against the seeded top eight.
The extra thrill is the Knockout Hole, a wedge-off from a purpose-built new tee to a pin on the 18th green just 90m away.
The Knockout Hole will be played once and if a winner is still not settled, the competitors will return to the new tee for a nearest-the-pin tie-breaker.
“Golf’s traditional tournaments have a fantastic heritage and appeal but there is also room for something fresh, unique and exciting,” Thorburn said.
“As the Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett has said, there were initial question marks on how the Hopman Cup would go in tennis but it’s a popular hit every summer with the mixed doubles and novel format.
“This revolutionary golf tournament aims to create another event that Western Australians call their own and is a collaborative effort between the PGA Tour of Australasia, the European Tour and the broader West Australian golf community.”
There will be plenty of reasons to play World Super 6 Perth with prizemoney expected to match the $ 1.75 million purse for the Perth International it replaces.
The Perth event is the first tournament of this type with a worldwide profile.
In 2011, a similar event called the Surf Coast Knockout was played at The Sands Torquay in Victoria when Scott Laycock triumphed in the final day shootouts.
It is a first for the European Tour to dive into such a radical format shake-up and it has the tick of Thomas Bjorn, the former Ryder Cup golfer heading the tour’s Tournament Committee.
Mr Barnett said he expected “high-quality players” to help the event capture the attention of the WA public.
“This is a unique tournament. It’ll be a world first,” he said.
“We expect it to be very popular with the crowd, and also very popular and attractive to players.
“In particular, it will attract a very large international television audience, particularly through Asia.
“It’s an innovative event, a bit like Twenty20 cricket maybe, and also like the Hopman Cup, which has been quite unique for tennis. This will be quite unique for golf.”