It doesn’t have a confirmed date, a host city or a venue, but the Australian Open has morphed into a magic bullet that could end golf’s majors dilemma.

Twice at the Masters this week, and recently at the urging of Rory McIlroy, the 10th oldest golf tournament in the world has been anointed as a solution that could bring golf’s best players back together at events around the world.

Former Ryder Cup captain-turned golf TV pundit Paul McGinley on Wednesday night made an extraordinary call for the Australian Open champion to be given a spot into all four majors the following year.

“It’s an amazing tournament and I loved every moment I played in Australia,” the Irishman said on Golf Channel’s Live from the Masters. “[The Aus Open gets] huge crowds, have a huge appetite for it, and what golf courses they have down there.

“Joaquin Niemann [won the 2023 Australian Open at The Lakes and The Australian]. Why not make the winner of the Australian Open exempt to all four majors and not the Masters? Pick a tournament in Asia, maybe the Japan Open, and one in Europe. The French Open comes to mind because it is the oldest title in the world. And maybe down in South America. Talk about growing the game? That would take the world’s best players to those places.”

Niemann, from Chile, won the 2023 Australian Open. Photo: Getty

While the move is inconceivable, it would be a win for multiples markets around the golf world, particularly Australia. LIV golfers, many of whom are shut out from the majors due to the world rankings, would utilise the offer, while plenty of PGA Tour and DP World Tour pros would treat it as a working holiday with a bonus of locking up a start in the majors.

The Australian Open and PGA are co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour and do manage to attract quality Australasian and European players. The Australian Open also offers three spots in the British Open for being a stop on the R&A’s International Qualifying Series. Few would complain about the guaranteed starts in the Masters, US Open and PGA as the option would be available to any pro.

McGinley’s comments came only hours after Augusta National chairman, Fred Ridley, revealed that it was LIV Golf star Joaquin Niemann’s trip to Australia that impressed the tournament committee for the Masters.

Former two-time PGA Tour winner, Niemann, joined LIV Golf, which does not receive Official World Golf Ranking points, in 2022. His world ranking from a high of No.15 to a current No.93.

He was locked out of the four majors in 2024 until he travelled a whopping 70,000 kilometres between November and February in searching of enough points to re-enter the world’s top 50. His trip to Australia yielded a fourth at the PGA at Royal Queensland before a playoff win at the Australian Open. That got him a start at the 152nd Open this year at Troon.

Niemann was, in February, given a special invitation to the 2024 Masters.

“I mean, a great example is this year Joaquin Niemann was given a special invitation,” Ridley said. “We felt that Joaquin had not only a great record coming up to this year, but after his season, you know, he went to Australia, played very well there, finished fourth in the Australian PGA, won the Australian Open, one of the great, great championships in the world. And we thought he was deserving of a special invitation. Now, historically, and as stated in our qualification criteria, we consider international players for special invitations.”

The Australian Open has struggled over the past two decades to attract the swath of big names it used to in its glory days of the 1960s, ’70s, 80’s and 90s. Recently, the event has attempted to sign one marquee player each year to headline the event. Rory McIlroy won the 2013 edition at Royal Sydney while Jordan Spieth claimed the 2014 and 2016 Stonehaven Cup titles.

That is in addition to hoping the big-name locals all come home for the summer, such as Cam Smith, Adam Scott, Min Woo Lee, Cam Davis, Lucas Herbert and Marc Leishman.

Australia’s quality courses, particularly the Melbourne sandbelt, already have the adulation of the top pros. Melbourne has been rumoured to host the 2024 Australian Open although nothing has been confirmed by organisers.

As 1991 British Open champion Ian Baker-Finch told reporters at Augusta on Wednesday, “Rory McIlroy has said to me, ‘Hey, you make sure you tell me when they’re going to Kingston Heath and I’ll come down.”

If McIlroy isn’t being approached and courted by Australian Open organises in a non-Ryder Cup year, it would beggar belief.

Four-time major winner McIlroy has been particularly vocal about the Australian Open. The Northern Irishman first tasted Victorian golf when he came down as an amateur in 2005, before winning the Open over Adam Scott in 2013. He returned the next year for The Australian Golf Club.

Spieth defeated Cam Smith in a playoff that also included Aussie Ash Hall at Royal Sydney in 2016.

In Dubai last year, McIlroy said, “if we can create a perfect golf calendar … I don’t think it would look like it looks right now. I think there would be changes made.”

Those changes would centre around negotiations between the PGA, DP World tours and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. All three parties are attempting to finalise a framework agreement first struck in June 6, 2023. That agreement aims to partner partner commercially with Saudi PIF, the financier of LIV Golf.

McIlroy said golf’s new world order should elevate the Australian Open back to an era when Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson and Greg Norman considered the Australian Open as golf’s unofficial fifth major. All four won the Stonehaven Cup.

“I would certainly like to see more co sanctioned events,” McIlroy said. “Some of the national opens, [we need to] try to revitalise some of those that have some great history in our game and a lot of tradition, like the Australian Open. To me, I’ve won quite a few national opens and they’re probably some of my most prized possessions in my trophy case. It’s being able to try to compare yourself to previous generations.”

McIlroy has an affinity for national opens; he was Australian Open, Irish Open, Scottish Open, Canadian Open, as well as the US Open and the Open Championships, in his trophy cabinet.

“I look at the the Australian Open trophy, and I see the names on that and that’s, to me, that’s being a professional golfer and being competitive is all about,” he said. “It’s being able to go and win all over the world and having to test yourself in different conditions on different grasses. I feel like I’ve been doing that for the last 15 years and I think I’m better because of it.”