AN intriguing 2010 Australian Open gets underway Thursday with defending champion Adam Scott determined to hold on to the Stonehaven Cup at the completely revamped Lakes course in Sydney.
As is almost traditional with the Open, controversy has been in the air in the lead up, this time about the many changes made to the course, and that will be just one element of interest as the tournament unfolds.
Scott comes up fresh from winning the Singapore Open and also with a win at the Texas Open in May.
It was something of a comeback year for Scott. That comeback started at the NSW Golf Club last year when the Queenslander triumphantly lifted his first major Australian trophy into the air.
“I don’t really want to give the trophy back … I’d love to have the trophy at home for another 12 months,” Scott said this week.
”It has been a great year for me, being Aussie Open champion. That felt great [and] certainly coming off a win in Singapore is good for the confidence. I’m excited about this week.”
Scott tees off at 12.10 pm Thursday in the third afternoon group alongside arch rival Geoff Ogilvy and China number one LIANG Wenchong.
Just a couple of years back Scott and Ogilvy were swapping places in the world top five list.
Ogilvy is the first to admit he hasn’t been playing well this year and put some of that down to just playing too much golf earlier in the year after winning the opening event of the season.
He’s taken a bit of time off lately and looked fresh and raring to go when he attended the Presidents Cup Captains Day in Melbourne on Monday.
And speaking of Presidents Cup captains, the iconic pair will be teeing of together on Thursday at 7.25am from the 10th tee.
The third member of the group is 2010 JBWere Masters winner Stuart Appleby, so that is definitely a grouping not to be missed.
While Norman was playing down his chances after a year of little competitive golf, 51 year old Couples had four wins in his debut year on the Champions Tour and came close to winning a second US Masters title in April before eventually finishing sixth.
“I need to go out there and play and really get going and get to know the course, but I’m not just here to show up. I never want to embarrass myself and not play to my best,” Couples said on Tuesday.
Best known for his effortless ball-striking, Couples said his putting success this year had really surprised him.
“I feel confident in the way I’ve been hitting the ball, there’s no doubt I’ve been hitting the ball pretty well,” he said.
“The weirdest thing of this whole year is that I led the Champions Tour in putting and I say that because that is where most of my confidence comes from.”
“When I putt well, I mean other people putt well all the time but when I putt well I usually play very, very well. This year for me to be first in putting, I’ve no idea why that happened. I was never close to being No.1 in putting on the regular tour in 29 years so it was a great bonus.”
Fans of over 50’s golf will also be able to sneak a peak at veteran Peter Senior, recent winner of the Australian Senior Open in Perth and another debutant on the US Champions tour, who is in the afternoon group just prior to the Scott-Ogilvy pairing.
Senior is playing alongside perennial favourite and 2007 winner Craig Parry and tournament threat John Senden.
There are host of other well known Australian and international names in the field, we haven’t mentioned the always colourful John Daily and the likes of Aaron Baddeley, Michael Sim, Marc Leishman, Nathan Green, Rod Pampling and an ongoing list of golfing talent.
Tickets are available from Ticketek or at the course.
The afternoon sessions of the 2010 Australian Open will be telecast on the Ten Network.