IN a blow to fans and organisers, Greg Norman has officially pulled out of the Australian Open in Sydney following a slower than expected recovery from shoulder surgery.
Golf Australia announced today the two-time British Open winner was advised by his doctors not to play competitive golf again this year following arthroscopic surgery in September.
Norman, a five time winner of the Open, has been at the forefront of marketing for the event, to be played at the NSW Golf Club at La Perouse from December 3-6.
His withdrawal comes on top of news that current champion Tim Clarke will not be recontesting the title. He’ll be playing in a lucrative event in hometown South Africa along with Australian Open refugee Robert Allenby.
On the flipside, a supposed “miracle” recovery by crowd drawcard John Daly has seen him back in the event and organisers were quick to point out the quality of the field remaining.
Norman will also miss his signature event, The Shark Shootout, to be held in Florida the week following the Open.
The Shark has been going through something of a rough personal trot of late, announcing the break-up of his 15-month marriage to tennis legend Chris Evert at about the same time as he underwent his shoulder surgery.
Golf Australia CEO Stephen Pitt said he was disappointed Norman could not attend the Open and wished him well in his recovery from surgery.
“Naturally we’re disappointed that Greg will not be able to join us,” Pitt said.
“We wish him well in his recovery and look forward to seeing him back in the Australian Open field in 2010.”
“While the championship will undoubtedly miss the magnetism of Greg it will mean some of the spotlight will return to the outstanding Australian depth in the field.”
The 2009 championship will herald the return of two-time Australian Open champion Aaron Baddeley for the first time since 2007.
Adam Scott, who finished well in the Singapore Open last week and hopefully has been bolstered by his Presidents Cup appearance, will also be back after missing last year through injury.
Other top ranked players in the Australian Open field include Australians Geoff Ogilvy, Michael Sim, Mathew Goggin, Stuart Appleby, John Senden, Marc Leishman and Americans John Daly, Steve Marino, Kevin Stadler and there are also a host of young, exciting players competing in what is the first Australian event on the new OneAsia Tour.