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Australia to launch T20-style teams event

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MELBOURNE: Australia will launch a new short-format golf event involving 10 city-based teams that its backers hope will revolutionise the sport and broaden its audience.

The Ultra Golf Championship (UGC) will debut in December 2023, with teams competing over nine holes rather than the usual 18, the PGA Tour of Australasia, which is sanctioning the event, said on Tuesday.

The concept, echoing the rapid-fire Twenty20 format that has shaken up world cricket, was designed by Australian businessman and UGC founder Deke Smith, and will be promoted by the local tour.

"This is an event we are passionate about and it continues to align with our innovation in the game in Australia," PGA Tour of Australasia Tournaments Director Nick Dastey said.

"We know once this world first format has some of the best players in the world showcasing it on TV next year, Ultra Golf Championship will become a part of all golf fans' life through both professional and amateur golf."

The UGC follows the launch of the Saudi-backed LIV series which has lured away many of the sport's biggest names from the established US and European tours by offering massive prize money for 54-hole events.

The UGC is heavily geared towards Asian markets with seven teams from the continent, including Delhi Drivers, Tokyo Royals, Shanghai Jets and Seoul Condors.

Non-Asian teams are the London Lasers, Los Angeles Eagles and New York Tigers.

Four-player teams are split into pairs for the competition, which runs over four days. The scoring format is a major departure from traditional stroke play, with teams given 10 points for a hole-in-one, eight for an albatross, six for an eagle, four for a birdie and two for a par.

The rounds will include four "feature hole opportunities" where teams can earn extra points for the longest drive or double points for winning a nominated "power-play" hole.

After seven minor rounds, the top four teams will play off in a "finals" series.

Organisers have yet to fix dates and venues, and did not offer details of prize money or broadcasting arrangements.

However, they say the format will appeal to a younger audience more amenable to a result "in two hours of golf".

"We see parochial sports fans getting behind their own city team," said founder Smith. -- Reuters

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