Young guns, past champs in search of Aussie Open glory

The Australian Open, and the main opening event of the summer, will kick off tomorrow at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

Aussie drawcards Adam Scott, Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman are set to tee off in the 144-man field, while Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen represent what is the ‘international’ presence. Former Aussie champions Greg Chalmers, Geoff Ogilvy, Peter Lonard, Robert Allenby and Matt Jones are also competing.

Adam Scott Adam Scott last won the Australian Open a decade ago in 2009 (Credit: Anthony Powter)

A back injury has once again forced Jason Day out of another Australian season with the former world No.1 missing this week’s tournament and the Presidents Cup in Melbourne. Day has never won the Australian Open.

This year will be the 21st time The Australian Golf Club has hosted the tournament, with Cameron Davis winning in the most recent visit there in 2017.

Last year’s champion Abraham Ancer is back to defend his title, with South Korea’s KJ Choi and Canadian Mike Weir are also in the mix.

The Australian Open also marks the start of the first of 16 events in 11 countries across five continents that will make up The Open Qualifying Series for 2020 and the opportunity for players not otherwise exempt to gain entry to the 149th Open at Royal St George.

Whilst the championship has in recent years flounded with prize money, sponsorship and television coverage issues, not to mention the lack of host venue rotation having been based in Sydney since Robert Allenby won at Moonah Links in Victoria in 2005, the Stonehaven Cup is steeped in history and conjures up the championship’s brighter bygone period.

Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Peter Thomson, Ken Nagle, Norman Von Nida all have their names etched on the Stonehaven Cup.

It’s this history that lures many of our promising local emerging players to get their names alongside some of the game’s greats. It’s also this element of unknown quantity within the field that actually makes this championship of interest.

Yes, the likes of Jordan Spieth (2014), Rory McIIroy (2013), Geoff Ogilvy (2010) and Adam Scott (2009), all major winners, have predictably claimed the title starting as one of the favourites, yet Peter Senior’s win in 2012 as the tour veteran who displayed one of the grittiest four round displays in golf arguably goes down as one for the ages.

The same could be said about Craig Parry’s win in 2007, although I feel Senior’s was probably more impressive

Cameron Davis’ one stroke win in 2017 proved an emerging young gun can also use the championship as a spring board to the top world tours with the former Australian amateur champion progressing later to the PGA Tour.

Last’s years championship at The Lakes was a bit of a run away event with Mexico’s Abraham Ancer taking a five stroke victory over local Dimi Papadatos.

As to this year, anything is possible and come Sunday we hope to be witnessing some history in the making, maybe even another young gun launching their career or a tour journeyman reliving a bit of the past. Either way it should make for an exciting week in what is a very short Aussie golfing summer these days.