Defending Australian Open Champion Craig Parry and world number five Geoff Ogilvy have confirmed they will be starters when the tournament returns to Royal Sydney Golf Club later this year.
The official Royal Sydney announcement was made at a media conference this week. The 93rd Australian Open will run from December 11 to 14.
In a pre-recorded interview, Craig Parry said he was delighted the open was returning to Royal Sydney, as it is a course he loves, but, “It doesn’t love me, though. I’ve never seemed to play well around there.”
Golf Australia chief executive officer Tony Hallam announced the triumphant return this week and is confident the field will be brimming with the best of home-grown talent.
“We have every expectation that all of the leading Australian players will be back to participate at Royal Sydney in the 2008 Australian Open,” Hallam said.
Hallam spoke to the nine Australians competing in the US Masters in Augusta last week and is confident the likes of Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley will be back.
“We have the strongest group ever of Australian players, we have two in the top-10 (in the official world golf rankings), three in the top-20, 12 in the top-100,” he said.
Hallam did not rule out attempts to secure selected non-Australian stars of the USPGA Tour and said moves to lure players of interest had already begun.
“We had about 30 international players last year and we certainly had some positive discussions last week,” he said.
“But it’s very early in the year in terms of their schedules but I think one of the discussions with a very leading player last week, he knew the Open was in Sydney, he knew where it was being played.”
“The players are already talking about it.”
Golf Australia could be looking for a new chairman of its Open championship, with the position recently vacated by Paul McNamee. McNamee has departed to take up the role of CEO at the struggling Melbourne Demons AFL club.
Hallam is reported to have said no decision had been made to replace McNamee.
“Paul has done a wonderful job over the past couple of years and he is leaving us as a good friend of golf and Golf Australia in particular. Paul’s role was actually part-time, so there was a lot of work done around Paul by our team, and we’re looking for them to step up into additional roles. At this stage, we are not specifically looking to replace Paul.”
A replacement is definitely needed by Golf Australia for a major naming rights sponsor to replace MFS. The financial company is in dire straights with its shares suspended from the Stock Exchange.
World Number 4 Adam Scott and 2006 US Open winner Geoff Ogilvey have confirmed they will be joining defending champion Craig Parry at the 2008 Australian Open.
Unfortunately, Aaron Baddeley will miss the event. His wife Richellle is expecting thier first child in November and he has decided he will not be returning to Australia to play in any tournaments at the end of the year.