Nicola Brander

Attracting the world's best

GOLFING legend Greg Norman says the Australian PGA Championship at Coolum can become a destination for some of the world best players.

A strong field has been assembled for the tournament, which starts tomorrow at Hyatt Regency Coolum to coincide with the centenary of the Australian PGA, on the back of the Presidents Cup being staged in Melbourne.

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Norman said there was no reason the $1.5 million event should be considered the poorer cousin of the Australian Open and the Masters.

"I would like to see a regeneration of top-class players (at Coolum)," he said.

"It's actually totally up to the tournament director.

"They can do it, there's no question about it.

"Sure there's a huge amount of opportunities for all these players all over the world to make a fortune in the silly season, but that was the case 30 years ago when I came back here every year and played here. Or when Jack Nicklaus came down here (to Australia) or Gary Player came down here or Arnold Palmer came down here or other great players.

"We've done it before - we can do it again."

Norman said the key to attracting more big names was selling Australia and its attractions to the players directly.

"I think we've got to take advantage of the atmosphere and recreate it," he said.

"Sydney (the Australian Open) was fantastic, Melbourne (the Presidents Cup) was unbelievable - I'd never seen that support, the number of people that turned out.

"I'm sure it's going to be great this weekend too.

"Take it all and figure out how to keep it going.

"You really have to include talking to the players, not through their managers, but talk to the players and understand what they liked or didn't like.

"I've spoken to a lot of American players and they all love Australia and said, 'I'd come back down here in a heartbeat and spend a week or two'.

"And we have to say 'okay, got it'. How difficult is that?"

Norman will line up alongside British Open winner Darren Clarke and Australian star Adam Scott in the first round of the PGA Championships and could later paired with big-name players such as Jason Day, Geoff Ogilvy and American Bubba Watson.

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