US tour rules out Aust Open link for now

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By : AAP

The US PGA Tour has ruled out co-sanctioning the Australian Open in the near future as it finalises a rearranged schedule but remains open to discussion.

Tournament director Trevor Herden raised the possibility of linking the Australian Open -- a PGA Tour of Australasia event -- with a bigger tour to strengthen the field during the championship in Sydney in November.

However, speaking at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii on Sunday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said there were no immediate thoughts of co-sanctioning the Open.

"There are not," Monahan said.

"It's a logical question, and it has been raised (before), but those are probably longer-term conversations."

Last year's Australian Open was headlined by major winners Jason Day and Jordan Spieth but drew some criticism over the field's depth, while Australian stars Adam Scott and Marc Leishman were notable absentees.

Herden indicated then that co-sanctioning could be on the table.

"We're trying to find a way to make it stronger; maybe we've got to join somebody else (another tour), but at the moment the discussions are just early days," Herden said during the tournament.

In August, the US tour announced its premier event, the Players Championship, would revert to its former date in March while the US PGA Championship, the final major of each year, would move to May starting in 2019.

This change is to bring the end of the season forward, allowing the US tour playoffs to avoid competing with the NFL and college football for television ratings.

Monahan said that was one reason for not looking at the Australian Open.

"At this point, with the complexity of what we're dealing with our schedule, we want to focus on making sure we get that right," Monahan said.

Perhaps the Australian Open's best shot at becoming an official US tour event is to slot into the Tour's Asia swing in October.

"Australia is obviously an important market to us," Monahan said.

"Could I see it? Yeah I could see it, if certain circumstances presented themselves that caused us to say, 'you know what? This is an opportunity'.

"But right now ... we've got three events that work really well in Asia and they've committed longer term, so it's really not something we can entertain."

Money would be a big issue if the Australian Open was to join the US tour.

To do so, Golf Australia, in conjunction with a title sponsor, would likely need to stump up a tournament prize purse between $US7 million ($A8.9 million) and $US10 million ($A12.7 million).

Currently, the Open's entire purse is $A1.3 million ($US983,000).

The CIMB Classic in Malaysia offers a pool of $US7 million while the CJ Cup in Korea, played the following week, offers $US9.25 million ($A11.7 million).

Golf Australia is already in need of a new Open naming rights sponsor after Emirates announced in December it was scrapping its decade-long sponsorship of Australia's flagship tournament, which reportedly costs the airline $A2 million annually.

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