THE flags and bunting are flying, the protagonists have gathered, and Royal Sydney Golf Club looks a picture ahead of the 2013 Emirates Australian Open.
One of the deepest fields of the Australian golfing summer will tee it up Thursday with a number of competing story lines sure to make it a delicious event.
Of course, the headline act is Adam Scott, not just back in Sydney for his first event since his historic US Masters win, but coming off back to back wins at the Australian PGA Championship and Talisker Australian Master and going for just the second ever single season Aussie Triple Crown.
Throw in Scott’s surging finish at the World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne last weekend to help he and teammate Jason Day to Australia’s first team victory in that event in 24 years, and you have a golfer in some very special form.
According to the flags and posters, you’ve got Scott and then you’ve got the mostly out of form former world number one Rory McIlroy.
The Northern Irishman is sure to pull big crowds and was making the right noises on the weekend about how good it would be to make the Aussie Open his first win of the season.
Third on the bunting is Jason Day, coming off his own superb win at Royal Melbourne and itching to make it two in a row himself.
“Yeah, definitely an exciting week for myself and my family. Obviously it was mixed emotions during the start of the week but to go out there and play the way I did in tough conditions at Royal Melbourne with a lot of good players that were trying to catch me was an amazing feeling,” Day said at his media conference on Tuesday.
“The way I handled myself, I felt like I really matured playing that last round. It felt great. I’m really looking forward to getting some good preparation going into this event.”
The 26 year old Queenslander admitted to Aussie Open loomed large for local competitors.
“It’s one of the tournaments that I’ve always wanted to win. It’s huge to an Australian. So many great names have been through and won the trophy. To one day hopefully put my name on the trophy would be an amazing honour, to be on that trophy.”
Another obvious contender this week is defending champion Peter Senior, who won last year in the atrocious final round conditions at The Lakes.
Experience, the 54 year old US Champions Tour star performance told the media, always counts heaps when the going gets tough.
“If I have a good tournament I’ll be very happy,” Senior said. “The guys we’ve got here this week, exceptional players. Adam Scott hasn’t put a foot wrong in the last six months. We’ve got Jason Day who played great last week. Even though Rory’s had a disappointing year for him, you can’t count those guys out. As soon as he starts winning again he’ll be back to where he was before and then you’ve got all the multitude of all the other good players that are here.”
Taking a quick walk around Royal Sydney on Tuesday confirmed what Senior was saying. Coming up the 18th finishing practice rounds, on the practice putting greens, on the driving range; everywhere faces familiar to every Australian golf fan – and many of them past champions. There was Stuart Appleby, John Senden, Greg Chalmers, Nick O’Hern, Peter Fowler, Andre Stolz, Scott Gardiner and a multitude more.
The seemingly long overdue end of the new US PGA Tour wrap-around season has meant many of the Aussie players on that tour have finally made it home, including some of those already mentioned along with the likes of Aaron Baddeley, Matt Jones and Robert Allenby.
Those lucky enough to be at Royal Sydney this week will have some exciting first round grouping to follow, including Adam Scott, Jason Day and America’s Kevin Streelman teeing off at 7.10am Thursday and Rory McIlroy, Geoff Ogilvy and Matt Jones starting at 12.10pm.Round 1 Tee Times
The 2013 Australian Open will be broadcast live free to air on the Seven Network.
(All times are AEDST – Check local guides for details)
Thursday 28 November – 12:00pm to 5:00pm
Friday 29 November – 12:00pm to 5:00pm
Saturday 30 November – 12:00pm to 5:00pm
Sunday 1 December – 12:00pm to 5:00pm