Date: November 07, 2011
Author: Steve Orme

High class field assembled

All eyes will be on Tiger Woods when he tees it up in the Emirates Australian Open for the first time in 15 years at The Lakes Golf Club beginning on Thursday. But the former world No.1 will have to produce some of his best golf if he is to end his two-year winless drought against one of the strongest fields in the tournament&aposs rich history. Woods, who has not won a professional tournament on any tour since the 2009 Australian Masters, has been plagued by knee and achilles injuries this season. The 14-time major winner, now ranked 56 in the world, has made just eight starts in 2011, with a tie for fourth at the US Masters his best result. He finished in a share of 30th in his most recent start at the Open five weeks ago. However, the 35-year-old has been installed as equal favourite with Adam Scott and is feeling bullish about the state of his game after publically declaring he is approaching top form. Woods is one of eight members of the United States Presidents Cup team in the running to join golfing greats Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus on the Stonehaven Cup on Sunday afternoon. The Presidents Cup will be held at Royal Melbourne on 17-20 November. World No.5 Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar (9), Nick Watney (12), Bubba Watson (17), Hunter Mahan (19), David Toms (21), Bill Haas (21), team captain Fred Couples, assistant captain John Cook and crowd favourite John Daly round out a stellar American contingent. The chance to see long bombers Johnson and Watson will be worth the price of admission alone, while Mahan is arguably the form American having finished T7 at the HSBC Champions and in a share of third at the Shanghai Masters a week earlier. International team members Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Aaron Baddeley, Robert Allenby and captain Greg Norman will lead the local assault. Equal favourite Scott is coming off a strong T11 finish at the World Golf Championships event last Sunday and will take some beating if he can get his broomstick putter going again this week. A refreshed Day, who turns 24 on Saturday, is the second favourite to lift the Stonehaven Cup and the second highest ranked player in the field at No.7. The Queenslander is coming off a strong season on the PGA Tour which saw him earn 10 top-10s from 21 starts including runner-up finishes at the US Masters and US Open. Defending champion Ogilvy, one of 12 former Australian Open champions in the 156-man field, finished 12th in Shanghai a fortnight ago and is primed for a strong defence. Presidents captain&aposs picks Aaron Baddeley and Robert Allenby are on the next line of betting and both bring decent form to Sydney.