Out: Woods. In: Fraser.
It has a nice ring to it for Marcus Fraser as he prepares to play the Open Championship at Royal Troon this week.
Fraser was not in the field until Tiger Woods, who has an automatic start as a past champion, pulled out a few weeks ago because of his recovery from back surgery.
As the next-highest ranked player who had not already qualified, the 37-year-old Victorian grabbed his chance, hoping to go a step better than his tied-20th at St Andrews last year, his best result in five previous Opens. "It's nice to be able to make some plans to get here, nice to know a couple of weeks out as opposed to last minute that you're in,'' he said today. "It's a long way to travel from Oz if you're back there. I was in the States so it was a little bit easier to travel from there.''
Fraser, a three-time winner in Europe, also has the Olympic Games in the forefront of his mind, having grabbed the second spot behind Scott Hend on the Australian team as golf returns to the Olympics for the first time in more than a century.
He expresses gratitude for the opportunity. "It's something I'm really looking forward to, definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. Hopefully I go there and have a good week and get my hands on a medal.''
Fraser will not be marching in the Opening Ceremony because he will not get to Rio de Janeiro in time, and he will be staying with Hend and the other team officials in a house at the course, but he intends watching some other sports on the Monday after the golf tournament finishes.
"I don't want to get over-awed by the whole experience,'' he said. "We'll just get down there and play as well as we can. I can't wait to get down there and hopefully get one of those medals around my neck. You try not to think about it, I haven't allowed myself to get that far ahead. but it's something you'd never forget, that's for sure.''
As one of 11 Australians in the field, Fraser plans on getting himself in contention in the Open on Sunday. "The Open's the one for me that I feel like i can really compete in,'' he said.