The world’s top golfers will hit the fairways of Royal Melbourne Golf Club this morning as the city hosts the prestigious Presidents Cup teams competition for a record third time.
The Tiger Woods-led United States team takes on an Internationals outfit captained by South African great Ernie Els at Black Rock’s famous sandbelt course, with crowds of up to 30,000 expected each day until Sunday.
Royal Melbourne has previously hosted the Presidents Cup in 2011 and 1998 – no other city outside the US has hosted the biennial event more than once.
The Andrews Labor Government has brought the Presidents Cup back to Melbourne with support provided through the Major Events Fund, which helps Victoria reap an annual $2.5 billion economic benefit from sporting and cultural blockbusters.
The Presidents Cup is forecast to create a $50 million dividend with tens of thousands of tickets sold to interstate and overseas golf fans. About 120,000 tickets had been sold on the eve of the competition, more than 40 per cent snapped up by people from outside Victoria.
Golf fans will also be catered for away from Royal Melbourne with a fan village operating at Sandringham Golf Club and a live site at Crown Riverwalk showing the on-course action.
The Presidents Cup involves teams of 12 players doing battle over multiple formats. The Internationals team comprises the best players from outside Europe and includes Warrnambool star Marc Leishman and fellow Australians Adam Scott and Cameron Smith.
The US and Internationals have split the spoils in previous Presidents Cup competitions played in Melbourne.
US playing captain Woods was a member of the victorious American team in 2011 while in 1998 the Internationals recorded their sole victory from 12 attempts, under the stewardship of Australian great Peter Thomson.
An independent report by consultants EY found that Victorian major events attracted almost 6.9 million international and interstate visitors last year.
Visitors spend $31 billion in the state annually, helping support more than 232,000 jobs, including 92,000 in regional Victoria.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula
“This is a world-stopping competition for golf and it’s fantastic that we can continue to set the mark for major events in this country.”
“The Presidents Cup being played in Melbourne is a massive win for local golf fans, no question.”
“Equally, the income generated by our visitors and the promotion created for Victoria around the world provide a significant return for all Victorians.”