THE Australian Seniors PGA Championships will be held at Byron Bay this December but will switch to Sydney next year, it was confirmed yesterday by NSW PGA chief executive officer Melville Proud.
Proud talked with Byron Bay club members yesterday and it was confirmed they were unable to raise the required sponsorship money for this year of between $40,000 and $60,000 which mainly goes to prizemoney.
Instead, the NSW PGA has all but finalised a deal with Sydney-based Fiducian Portfolio Services who will sponsor the event in Byron this year on the proviso the Australian Championships returns to Sydney in 2010.
“I can confirm the 2009 Australian Seniors PGA Championships will be staged at Byron Bay with Fiducian as the naming rights sponsor,” Proud said.
“The amount they will contribute is not finalised and the contracts have not been signed but there is intent to see the deal through.
“The 2010 event will return to Sydney but the Byron Bay club has told us of their interest to hold another prestige seniors event in 2010.”
Since 2007, the Australian Seniors PGA Championships has been hosted at Byron Bay with the annual awards night for the seniors circuit also being held at Byron Bay at the conclusion of the tournament.
Proud believes that Byron's intent to host another event could see the awards night stay in Byron Bay.
“One thing you can't duplicate is the country feel and hospitality of Byron Bay,” the chief executive officer said.
“They have exceeded all expectations for the event and even last Saturday when I met with at the club the alterations they've made to the clubhouse is just fabulous.
“Obviously I'm thrilled that Bryon wants to remain involved with the Seniors tour and I don't get that excited very often.”
The Northern Star raised the possibility last week that the event may not be held at Byron at all this year because of the lack of a major sponsor, but the efforts of the NSW PGA has saved the event for one last year.
Byron Bay officials were unavailable for comment yesterday.
The Seniors, or Legends tour, is open to golfers 50 and over and this year's tour participants include the likes of Wayne Grady, Rodger Davis, Ossie Moore, Bob Shearer and Dave Merriman.
Former Australian Open winner Peter Senior will also join the tour after turning 50 last month but is expected to play the majority of his senior's tournaments overseas.
The skill and verve of senior golfers has been remembered in recent years with the great performances of Australia's Greg Norman and American Tom Watson in the last two British Opens.
The three-day Byron Bay event is scheduled to be held from December 17 to 20.
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