Date: January 30, 2008

Bright future for Aussies: Stephenson

John Clark at Kingston Heath, Sportal Golf luminary Jan Stephenson has warned the world that the next crop of Australian golfers has the talent to dominate the game. Australian Stephenson, who was made a life member of the ALPG on the eve of the MFS Australian Open in Melbourne, has been working closely with the national squad of late. And the Open&aposs inaugural winner says there is something special about the up-and-comers. “Right now it&aposs impressive, it just gives me goosebumps,” Stephenson enthused on Wednesday at Kingston Heath. “These kids are great. It&aposs kind of fun that they want to talk to someone my age about golf, it&aposs nice that they are asking questions.” “These girls are so talented. They are beautiful, they are strong, they&aposve got really good techniques which is a crucial part of the game nowadays.” “I can&apost see them not taking the world by storm.” The squad – which includes 2007 Mastercard Junior Masters winner Stephanie Na – will tee off on Thursday morning in a field that includes arguably the country&aposs greatest golfer, Karrie Webb. But the chase for talent must not slow because things are bright at present; Stephenson has urged Australia&aposs golf community to work even harder to ensure the future. “We need to do something to get the kids,” Stephenson said. “Now it is OK. I have met the national squad and I am very impressed with their golf swings and their attitudes and they&aposre doing the right things and want to make it,” she said. “But my concern is the five- and six-year-olds, we need to make sure they are taken care of because if they are not into it now there&aposll be a big gap and we&aposll be swallowed up.” Meanwhile, Stephenson praised the Open&aposs organisers for their foresight at this year&aposs event with a host of attractions for fans. “This one is really impressive, even moreso than I remember,” she said of the 2008 version of the event she has won twice. “What happens in the United States, not just golf, at any sporting event there is so much going on. It&aposs like a circus and there&aposs so much to do, it&aposs just mind-boggling.” “Here, there is so much to do for kids and people. It&aposs pretty impressive that they have done that and that&aposs what we need.” “If not, we&aposre going to be swallowed up by other sports. There is so much competition for support and we have to do something.”