US PGA's Mexico golf event in for long haul

23 Feb 2012 07:46

It lacks the world's top golfers but the US PGA's $3.7 million Mayakoba Classic that tees off on Thursday has a six-year contract that only two other tournaments can boast.

The event is being eyed for a move to late in the calendar year as part of a restructuring of the US developmental series and qualifying for PGA playing rights but for now it remains opposite a World Golf Championships event.

While the world's 64 top players are playing at the WGC Match-Play Championship in Arizona, another 132 players have made the trek to the par-71 El Camaleon course designed by Australian legend Greg Norman.

Norman is among four former World No. 1 players in the field, a group that also includes Zimbabwe's Nick Price and Americans David Duval and Tom Lehman.

"Here's one of my favorite golf courses that we have built, there's no question about it," Norman said. "I know this event is near and dear to a lot of players in their hearts and I think in the future it's extremely secure.

"There's no question about it. Mayakoba will stand the test of time for years and years to come."

Norman hopes his game can stand the test as he feels healthy for the event.

"I had surgery on my left shoulder a year ago and now I've got my strength back," he said. "I feel like I can go out there and play again."

Defending champion Johnson Wagner won his third career US PGA title last month in Hawaii and figures to be among the contenders once again, along with fellow Americans Cameron Beckman, the 2010 Mayakoba champion, and Brian Gay, who won the event in 2008.