PAST champion Lee Westwood, British Open winner Darren Clarke and Aussies Marc Leishman and Steven Bowditch are the latest high profile signings for the 2015 Australian Open in Sydney this November.
The respected foursome will join defending champ and world No.1 Jordan Spieth and Aussie favourite Adam Scott at The Australian Golf Club from November 26-29.
Westwood, a former world No.1 and prolific winner on the international golfing stage, sprang to prominence when he won the 1997 Australian Open at Melbourne’s Metropolitan Golf Club.
The Englishman fended off challenges from Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson to finish tied with five-time Australian Open winner Greg Norman at 14 under, then outduelled the “Great White Shark” on the fourth hole of a sudden-death playoff to become the first European to lift the Stonehaven Cup – a post he held alone until Rory McIlroy followed suit in 2013.
“Obviously I have a lot of great memories of the Australian Open so I am really excited to be heading there again,” said Westwood, a perennial at the top end of the world rankings.
“We all enjoy playing in Australia because of the standard of the courses, the knowledgeable fans and the great weather. It is also a really strong field again this year so it will be a superb spectacle.”
Westwood, 42, has proven himself a true global player since his Australian Open win with victories in the United States, Europe, Japan, on the Asian and South Africa’s Sunshine Tour during a glittering career that has yielded 42 professional titles and an amazing 17 top-10 finishes in major championships.
He also boasts a wonderful Ryder Cup record, representing Europe nine times for seven victories, five times a teammate of his good mate, Clarke.
Clarke, 47, is the incoming European Ryder Cup captain. The Northern Irishman famously won the Open Championship at Royal St George’s in 2011 and is a popular figure wherever he plays. He’s won 14 times on the European Tour.
“The Australian Open has a wonderful history and has been won by many of the game’s greatest players and with the likes of Lee, Jordan and Adam playing this November, we are in for a real treat,” Clarke said.
Golf Australia’s tournament director Trevor Herden was thrilled with the addition of the players for the final event on OneAsia’s 2015 schedule.
“Darren is an extremely entertaining player, engages with the fans and is always good value to have around the tournament,” Herden said.
“Lee is one of the most successful players of this era, including having won our national championship before. He is one of the best ball-strikers and most consistent players in the world, so we can’t wait to see if he can gets his hands on a second Stonehaven Cup.”
Herden was thrilled with the commitment of Leishman and Bowditch, two of Australia’s brightest lights.
“Both Marc and Steven have really made giant strides this year and it’s great to see them come back and not only support their national championship, but to both be back with legitimate shots at the title,” Herden said.
“Marc was so close at the Open Championship in the playoff, and Steven won the Byron Nelson in Texas – then both showed the world they felt right at home at the elite level when they won their singles matches at the Presidents Cup.
“It just seems like they’re both really ready to take the next step in their careers and maybe the Emirates Australian Open is where they take it.”
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Video Highlights of Lee Westwood’s 1997 Australian Open win