Date: November 22, 2005

Australian Open is still the one – Appleby

US Tour star Stuart Appleby has rejected suggestions the Australian Open has lost any prestige because of a lack of foreign players in the field and a drop in prizemoney. The Victorian, who won the Mercedes Championship for the second straight year in January, dismissed the prizemoney issue as “irrelevant.” And he said that, among the Australians, who now make up a healthy proportion of the world&aposs leading 50 players, the Open remained the tournament they most wanted. “I couldn&apost care if we played for a quarter or a third of what we are playing for,” Appleby said as he prepared for this week&aposs championship at Moonah Links. “It wouldn&apost matter because in 2005 there will be an Australian Open champion – and that will never change. “It was that way 100 years ago – it didn&apost matter whether it was two bob they were playing for, it&aposs still the trophy and that&aposs really what it&aposs about,” he said. “I don&apost think any of the players are concerned that the prizemoney is dropping. “I, as a player, am not concerned that it&aposs dropping because I certainly don&apost play this tournament based on that at all. “I know there&aposs a lot of (talk) saying, hey, you can play on the US Tour for five times as much – but that&aposs totally irrelevant,” Appleby said. “It&aposs the Australian Open, that&aposs the first thing we look at – what&aposs the tournament – before anything else. “We look at course, event and date and money is one of the last things we think about. I couldn&apost even tell you the purse of any of our tournaments.” Appleby said the costs of luring drawcard names to the championship would be prohibitive. “For Ernie Els, Sergio (Garcia)….your appearance fees for those guys are totalling somewhere in the $ 1 million Australia mark,”Appleby said.