Date: February 18, 2009

Comeback kids

Flush with some of international golf’s best players, the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic begins tomorrow at The Vines Resort and Country Club. For Camilo Villegas, it represents a chance to get on the podium for the first time this season. The Colombian led the recent Buick Invitational for 54 holes but surrendered on the final day to winner Nick Watney. His spectacular end to 2008, which included winning the BMW Championship and the season-ending TOUR Championship, paved the way for a powerhouse start to 2009. In Perth, Villegas will count any top 5 finish as an excellent result given the quality in the field. Among those certain to challenge the world number 9 are Anthony Kim- at world number 11 and Lee Westwood at world number 12. It has been a rocky start to the year for Kim who finished with three consecutive top 5 finishes in December. He was disqualified at HSBC Champions for signing an incorrect scorecard, tied for second behind Geoff Ogilvy at the Mercedes-Benz Championship and then missed the cut at the FBR Open. Last week he had to settle for a share of 33rd at the Malaysian Open. A top 10 performance in a field of this class would suit the Californian perfectly. Lee Westwood is almost a carbon-copy of Kim s start. The Englishman finished in the top 5 in three of his four final events last year but started this year with a third in South Africa followed by ties for 27th and 39th in the Middle East. Ian Poulter steps out for the first time in 2009 and his compatriot Paul Casey will look to build on his start which has so far yielded a win in Abu-Dhabi and a fourth place in Dubai. And don t expect many to be able to look too far away from Greg Norman who almost completed what would have been one of the most extraordinary sporting victories in history at Royal Birkdale last year.