Australia's Gold Coast to Host Masters Golf Tournament


One of the most significant events on Australia's golf calendar has been announced for the Gold Coast later this year. The inaugural $100,000 Greater Building Society's Australian Masters Invitational will be held at Emerald Lakes Golf Club November 5-8 and will feature high-profile Australian players Ian Baker-Finch, Graham Marsh, Rodger Davis and Bob Shearer.

The PGA-endorsed event adds to the long list of past and present events on the Gold Coast, including the ANZ Ladies Masters and the popular Daikin Night Shootout on November 6th.

The event continues an association of staging of top tournaments by local developer Nifsan, owners of the Emerald Lakes Golf Club and the nearby Emerald Lakes master-planned community. Emerald Lakes hosted the Queensland PGA Championship 2003-07.

Nifsan director, Leslie Lord, said the new tournament promises to be an opportunity for Gold Coast fans to witness senior golf at its best. "Our association with the Queensland PGA Championship over the last five years has proved highly popular and of benefit to both Emerald Lakes and the wider golfing community on the Gold Coast as a whole.

"This year's event is a new direction for the tournament and our ongoing involvement in events-based golf is a great source of pride and pleasure for the company and the Emerald Lakes team. With the inclusion of such high-profile golfing names and sponsors, it promises to be an exciting week of golf and should prove to be another highlight on the Queensland golfing calendar."

While an event restricted to over-50s golfers, 48-year-old Baker-Finch's place in the field comes via a special sponsor's invitation, allowing the Queenslander to test his skills for the first time in a tournament since 2001. His participation also offers the event a major drawing card.

Seventeen years after his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale, Baker-Finch remains a significant figure in the game because of his involvement as one of golf's leading golf commentators for CBS and TNT in the U.S. "I'm really looking forward to the opportunity of coming back to the Gold Coast, to catch up with some friends and to enjoy what promises to be a really good event," said Baker-Finch.

"It's also good to support this event in its initial year as I feel sure it will be the first of many," he added. "I'm also keen to see how I will perform in a competitive situation once again but I don't expect to take 10 years off from tournament golf and come back and win against some of those who are in the field and who are playing tournament golf on a regular basis.

"I would eventually, though, like to play a few events on the Champions Tour when I turn 50 in just over two years and this gives me a chance to see where I am with my game and how I would go under a little more pressure than I experience in my normal social games over here in the USA.

"I've played Emerald Lakes previously back in 1998 when they opened the revised layout and have fond memories of it. From what I can recall of that event they produced the golf course in great shape then and by all accounts the course had continued to improve."

Marsh has won nearly 70 events in the U.S., Europe, Japan, Asia and Australasia. His association with Emerald Lakes extends beyond a playing interest, however, with his Gold Coast-based Graham Marsh Golf Design responsible for the redevelopment of the course in the late-1990s.

Others in the field include Davis and Shearer, both previous Australian Open champions who have won extensively in Australia and internationally.

The 54-hole, 72-player tournament will start with a pro-am on the opening two days. A cut will then be made, with the leading 36 players making it through to the final round on Saturday November 8. A first prize of $30,000 plus a new golf cart supplied by Yamaha awaits the winner.

The above article was written by Bruce Young (B-young@bigpond.net.au).


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