Allenby 'terribly sad' at Oz Masters axe

Robert Allenby (AP)
Robert Allenby (AP)

Houston - Australian 'Triple Crown' winner Robert Allenby lamented the demise of the Australian Masters after this year's edition was axed, leaving the tournament facing an uncertain future.

Allenby, and fellow Australians Geoff Ogilvy and Stuart Appleby said it was shame for a prestigious event whose past champions include Tiger Woods and Greg Norman.

Allenby won the Australian Masters in 2003 and again in 2005, when he became the only player to clinch Australia's Triple Crown of the Masters, Australian Open and Australian PGA.

"Of course, I was fortunate to win it twice and while I am delighted that probably no one else will be able to say they've won Australia's 'Big Three', another part of me is terribly sad to see it go," he said at the Houston Open.

"So it's just a real shame that Australian golf will not see 'The Big Three' anymore and that's what is going to hurt so much."

Organisers IMG announced on Wednesday that the Masters would not be played this year, and added that "new plans" for the event would be unveiled in the coming months.

Allenby said: "It's been known IMG, who have been backing the event, have being doing so at a loss for many years and if you are running any business at a loss you eventually are going to have to pull the pin."

Ogilvy, who won the US Open in 2006, said he vividly remembers being a marshal at the 1990 Australian Masters in Melbourne when he was just 13.

"So it's a big shame we're losing the event but it's been kind of dying a slow death the last five or six years when they took the event away from Huntingdale (golf club) and started bouncing it around other courses in Melbourne and that really was the turning point," he said.

"Every year they were grinding to find a sponsor but would always announce one very late, and the event just seemed like it was simply treading water trying to stay afloat."

Appleby, who won the Australian Masters in 2010, also said the writing has been on the wall for several years.

"I'm not surprised any tournament could find it's way onto the chopping block in Australia and I guess everything has to go through cycles and that's the case with the Australian Masters," said Appleby.

"The good aspect is that for some 85 to 95 percent of its life the Australian Masters has been a banging tournament but for the last five years or so it's simply struggled.

"But as a kid growing up in Australia going to Huntingdale, and the same golf course, year after year to see some of the best players in the world compete was pretty cool."

First held in 1979, Norman became synonymous with the tournament in its earlier years, amassing six gold jackets in an astonishing stretch from 1981 to 1990.

It was won by Woods in 2009, with Australian Peter Senior claiming the title at Huntingdale in Melbourne last year.

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