World No.48 Adrian Meronk and South Australian Jack Thompson will officially get the 2024 DP World Tour season underway with the opening tee shots of the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland Golf Club on Thursday morning.
Meronk will tee off from the 10th tee at 6am AEST alongside Aussie stars Adam Scott and Cam Davis to mark the start of the 2024 season while Thompson will begin his championship from the first tee also at 6am with Queenslander Elvis Smylie and Kiwi Q School graduate, Sam Jones.
Haydn Barron will have to wait a little bit longer to hit his first competitive shot as a rookie member of the DP World Tour, however, the West Australian’s opening drive from the first hole taking on greater significance after his remarkable run through Q School.
“It was a crazy week and having played through Second Stage the week prior I was already feeling a little bit tired,” Barron said.
“Continually thinking about the carrot at the end of the week and arguing with yourself. ‘Don’t think about it,’ and then you can’t help but think about it.
“I held it together pretty well but I Facetimed my girlfriend as soon as I finished and just broke down crying.
“It was a pretty crazy feeling but something I’ve got to try and hang on to for as long as possible.”
A feeling of accomplishment in trying and surprising circumstances have become somewhat common place for Barron after COVID halted the start of his professional journey.
Barron, arguably the tallest player in the field in Brisbane, earned a place in this year’s Open Championship after a tie for fourth at last year’s ISPS HANDA Australian Open.
Returning to Australia briefly in between qualifying commitments in Europe, Barron was runner-up at the WA PGA in Kalgoorlie in October, and now will need to spend time planning his schedule between the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia and DP World Tour beyond the upcoming co-sanctioned fortnight.
“The schedule has definitely changed a little bit from where it was last week,” Barron conceded.
“Super excited to be back and playing these two in Australia before the rest of the year over in Europe.”
Becoming more comfortable in the kind of company he will be keeping this week alongside the likes of defending champion Cam Smith, Adam Scott, Meronk, Bob MacIntyre and more, Barron could keep his recent dream run going if he were to add a first pro win to his ever-improving resume.
“It’s been a whirlwind last 12 months for anyone that knows what’s been happening,” he said.
“I’ve been playing well for the last few months and having headed over to Liverpool in the middle of the year and playing The Open, just experiencing those wild emotions in the big events probably makes everything seem a little easier now.
“Regardless of what event it is, you’re always feeling under the pump but knowing that I’ve been there and been through it already a couple of times this year, it makes it much easier I think.”
Other notables in the field this week include Min Woo Lee chasing a second Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia win after securing his own new PGA TOUR card in America next year, Marc Leishman, reigning Order of Merit champion David Micheluzzi and past champions Geoff Ogilvy and Jed Morgan.
HOW TO FOLLOW
For live scoring and the latest news visit www.pga.org.au Exclusive content and tournament updates will also be posted regularly on the PGA Tour of Australasia’s social media channels.
Official hashtag: #AusPGA
HOW TO WATCH
The Fortinet Australian PGA Championship is live on Nine and Fox Sports, available on Foxtel and Kayo
Round 1: Thursday, 12pm – 5pm (AEDT)
Round 2: Friday, 12pm – 5pm (AEDT)
Round 3: Saturday, 12pm – 5pm (AEDT)
Round 4: Sunday, 12pm – 5pm (AEDT)
2022 Cam Smith
2021 Jed Morgan
2019 Adam Scott
2018 Cam Smith
2017 Cam Smith
2016 Harold Varner III
2015 Nathan Holman
Jediah Morgan (63, 2021 Fortinet Australian PGA Championship)
Carnegie Clark (1920); Dr Alister MacKenzie (1926); Mike Clayton (2007).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Cam Smith, 2022 Open Championship winner
Adam Scott, 2013 Masters champion
Adrian Meronk, four-time DP World Tour champion
Robert MacIntyre, two-time DP World Tour winner and 2023 Ryder Cup representative
Cam Davis, PGA TOUR winner and 2017 Australian Open champion
Min Woo Lee, two-time DP World Tour winner and 2023 Macao Open champion
David Micheluzzi, 2022/23 Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winner
Marc Leishman, six-time PGA TOUR winner
Lucas Herbert, three-time DP World Tour and PGA TOUR winner