Former champion Rory McIlroy has challenged golf’s decision makers to return the Australian Open to return to its former glory while the professional game’s global schedule continues to evolve.

The four-time major champion was asked Tuesday if the alliance between the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour – whose season comes to its finale this week in Dubai – could yield more co-sanctioned events globally.

McIlroy said yes. “If we can create a perfect golf calendar, what would it look like? And I don’t think it would look like it looks right now,” he said. “I think there would be changes made.”

Currently, the Scottish Open is the only top-tier event sanctioned by both the European and American circuits. The Barbasol and Barracuda championships, two opposite field events in the US in July, are also co-sanctioned but they run against the Scottish and British Opens.

The question to McIlroy was focussed on the two major tours, whose schedules appear likely to evolve further than they have in the past two years as the DP World and PGA Tour attempt to finalise a framework agreement by December 31. That agreement aims to partner partner commercially with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the financier of LIV Golf.

But McIlroy, in his answer, also volunteered the Australian Open as an event that needs to restored to the status it held in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Back then, names like Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Greg Norman considered the Australian Open to be golf’s unofficial fifth major.

“I would certainly like to see more co sanctioned events, I think the Scottish Open and works really well and I think certainly one could work well here [in the Middle East],” 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.”

Although McIlroy isn’t an annual competitor in Australia – which would be difficult for the Northern Irishman considering his global golf schedule runs into November each year – the 34-year-old has travelled Down Under occasionally since he was an amateur in 2005. McIlroy defeated Adam Scott on the final hole at Royal Sydney in 2013 to win the Stonehaven Cup. That victory helped lift McIlroy out of a slump and into the form that yielded two major wins in 2014.

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.”

The Australian Open, and PGA, are fortunate to be co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour. With late November dates, the duo fit the European circuit’s schedule nicely given the 2023 season ends in Dubai and the new season begins the week after with the co-sanctioned Australian events.

This year, both events will have strong fields including names like Cameron Smith, Adam Scott, Cam Davis, Min Woo Lee, as well as European stars like defending Australian Open champion Adrian Meronk and Ryder Cup success Robert MacIntyre. LIV golfers Joaquin Niemann and Mito Pereira are also reportedly locked for the Open.

If the Australian Open aspires to be absorbed into a global schedule of elite events across the DP and PGA Tours, it would likely have to change dates – perhaps in February, later in the Australian summer but in a quieter part of the northern hemisphere tours. Wouldn’t doing so would be worth the effort to attract the likes of McIlroy?

Clearly, he wants a reason to come Down Under.