This week marks one of the biggest events of the year 'Down Under,' as Royal Pines Resort in Queensland plays host the Australian PGA Championship. Unfortunately for tournament organizers, the defending champion won't be among the field.
One year ago, Daniel Popovic stunned the competition by going wire-to-wire at Palmer Coolum Resort to win his first title as a rookie on the Australasian PGA Tour. The victory earned him several perks – notably among them, spots in both the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and last week's WGC-HSBC Champions. It also gave him a berth in the final stage of European Tour Qualifying School, which unfortunately for Popovic conflicts with this week's event in Australia.
As a result, the 27-year-old will opt out of his title defense and instead head to PGA Catalunya Resort near Girona, Spain, with his long-term career aspirations in mind.
'I'm not defending the Australian PGA because of the European Tour Q-School, and I'm absolutely devastated,' Popovic told reporters last week in Shanghai. 'I think for my future and my career I have to go to the Q-School.'
While a world-class field concludes the final round at Royal Pines on Sunday – including Adam Scott, who is making his first competitive start in Australia since winning The Masters in April – Popovic will be teeing off in the first of six rounds in Spain.
'In the bigger picture it is a European Tour card I want and I am sure that I will have many more chances in my career to play the Australian PGA,' he added. 'Getting my European Tour card is going to be the best opportunity of getting to where I want to be in my career and where you can be challenging yourself every week.'