|In search of game in Australia.|
It used to be big guns Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player arrived Down Under every year for the Australian Open. Nicklaus called it the fifth major. That was long ago.
But the buzz is definitely back—at least for the next two weeks.
The country’s open championship tees off on Thursday with a marquee field of homegrown, American and international players, including: Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Aaron Baddeley, Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby, John Senden, Greg Chalmers, Greg Norman, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Fred Couples and David Toms.
Of course, the event is headlined by the struggling former world No. 1 player, Tiger Woods. Woods is fresh off his latest public apology. This time he is on the receiving end. Steve Williams, Tiger’s former caddie, continued to clean up his mess on Tuesday in the aftermath of his boneheaded racial slur at Woods’s expense that was heard around the world and perhaps neighboring solar systems. Williams and Woods spoke face to face at a hotel gym and parted with a handshake.
“He did apologize,” Tiger said. “It was hurtful, certainly, but life goes forward.”
This is the first time Woods has turned up for the Australian Open since 1996. That November, Tiger was a skinny 20-year-old rookie on the PGA Tour. He finished fifth in Sydney. Six months later he won his first Green Jacket.
Now Woods is trying to repair his golf game and public image and prove he was a worthy captain’s pick for the U.S. Presidents Cup team. It starts at 12:10 p.m. on Thursday in a grouping with Day and Allenby.
Fans and media will be watching. The golf circus has come to Australia.
−The Armchair Golfer
(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)