JUST a month out from the 2011 Emirates Australian Open in Sydney more of the world’s top players have confirmed as starters.
They are headed by World Number 9 Matt Kuchar, World Number 11 Nick Watney and fellow US Presidents Cup team member Hunter Mahan.
Robert Allenby has also confirmed he will be returning to the Open for the first time since his troubles with the infamous “party hole” in 2008.
Queenslander John Sender, who made a valiant last ditch attempt to get into the Presidents Cup squad, has also signed up.
There are still some names from the US Presidents Cup team missing from The Lakes line-up – including Mickelson and Stricker – but there was talk captain Fred Couples wanted all his team to play in Sydney to prepare for the big clash at Royal Melbourne the following week if possible, so who knows?
Sydney has so far amassed an unprecedented field with those above joining a growing list that includes Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Bubba Watson, Greg Norman, Fred Couples and defending champion Geoff Ogilvy.
Hamish Jones from Golf Australia was quick to rule out Mickelson, who will be playing in Singapore during the Open week. Stricker, who is nursing a shoulder problem and is unlikely, and Jim Furyk.
Others on the US team, including Bill Haas, Webb Simpson and David Toms are possibilities and could join The Lakes line-up in the next week or so.
There are also still possibilities in the Internationals team including the South Africans, Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen and the South Koreans.
Jones didn’t think Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa was a chance and hadn’t heard his name mentioned as a possibility in a month or so.
Watney, who has won twice on the US PGA Tour this year, will be playing in the Australian Open for the first time.
“I’m really looking forward to being a part of the Championship in Sydney,” Watney said. “Most of my family are coming down for it”.
“There seems to be a real buzz around this year’s Open leading into the Presidents Cup and it is amazing how many top international players have won the tournament.”
Kuchar played in the 2000 Open at Kingston Heath Golf Club while Mahan is also a debutant.
Golf Australia CEO Stephen Pitt said the anticipation for the Emirates Australian Open was building rapidly.
“The excitement around the Open is extraordinary and we want to make sure no one misses out. Get in and buy your tickets now so you can come straight in and get into the thick of the action.,” Pitt said.
Tickets are on sale Ticketek or by phoning 132 849. To book travel packages for the championship, contact Flight Centre on 1300 778 433.
The 2011 Emirates Australian Open will be played at The Lakes Golf Club from 10-13 November.
The event is again sanctioned by OneAsia and the PGA Tour of Australasia and will be broadcast live on Network Ten.