Stacey Keating’s recent back-to-back victories at the Spanish and French Opens, her first big wins in professional golf, were great examples of the success the Golf Australia Rookie Program can help achieve.
The Rookie Program offers a way of assisting professional golfers as they enter the most exciting and challenging time of their professional careers; finding and establishing themselves on an international Tour and understanding the demands of travelling to different parts of the world whilst at the same time trying to compete against the best players in the world.
2012 has proved to a particularly strong year for the program’s scholarship holders.
In addition to Stacey’s victories on the Ladies European Tour, Nick Cullen won the Indonesian Open, Kieran Pratt won the Myanmar Open, Matt Griffin won the High1 Resort Open in Korea, Rick Kulacz won on the PGA Tour of Australasia, Julia Boland won on the US feeder Symetra Tour and earned her LPGA Tour card and Kristie Smith also won on the Symetra Tour.
These are the sort of results the program sets out to achieve – to strengthen the transition phase so that when players turn professional, there is less focus on “starting out” again as they did early in their amateur careers.
Specifically we are trying to help them achieve the most efficient and productive introduction to professional golf and to give themselves every chance of having a long and successful career.
Players go through an application and selection process with Golf Australia and to be eligible they must be in the final six months of their amateur career or their first five years as a professional golfer.
The program targets players that have a clear ability to become a top 100 world ranked player in the foreseeable future and ultimately would be capable of winning Major and international championships over the long term.
While mentioning international championship winners, we recently announced that World Number 5 Justin Rose would join the Emirates Australian Open field in Sydney. Justin has had a terrific year on Tour culminating in his role in the victorious European Team at the Ryder Cup at Chicago.
It’ll be great to have both he and Adam Scott as two of the Top 10 players in the world at the Open in addition to Tom Watson, Geoff Ogilvy and defending champion Greg Chalmers among those to play with more player announcements to come.
Finally, I’d like to congratulate our teams at the World Amateur Team Championships in Turkey.
The Australian women’s team put in an exceptional performance at the Espirito Santo Trophy finishing in third place and earning podium honours.
The Australian men’s team endured a bad start in the rain-affected Eisenhower Trophy, but they finished strongly to end in 15th place.