Date: April 16, 2008
Author: Steve Orme

Local stars set for Sydney

Golf Australia chief executive officer Tony Hallam is confident the 2008 Australian Open field will be brimming with the finest home-grown talent. The tournament returns to the prestigious Royal Sydney Golf Club and will once again draw the curtain on the Australasian summer of golf. Defending champion Craig Parry and world No.5 Geoff Ogilvy are already confirmed starters for the event. Hallam has no doubt the majority of top-ranked Aussies will return to fight it out for the Stonehaven Cup. “We have every expectation that all of the leading Australian players will be back to participate at Royal Sydney in the 2008 Australian Open,” Hallam said on Wednesday. With the tournament still several months away the full field is far from set in stone but Hallam said the early indications are positive. “I saw all of them last week at Augusta,” Hallam said when asked if he had received assurances from the likes of Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley. “And I suppose again the love (the top Australian players have) of the Open – and they love coming back and playing all the events don&apost get me wrong – but there&aposs certainly something about the national championship.” Asked if the tournament would pursue any leading internationals to bolster the field Hallam said: “First of all it&aposs about celebrating our Australian group.” “We have the strongest group ever of Australian players, we have two in the top-10 (in the official world golf rankings), three in the top-20, 12 in the top-100.” “We have people like Jason Day, Nick Flanagan coming through … so first of all you&aposve got to play to your strength which is this wonderful group of Australian players.” But he would not rule out attempts to secure selected non-Australian stars of the USPGA Tour and said moves to lure players of interest had already begun. “We had about 30 international players last year and we certainly had some positive discussions last week (with players),” he said. “But it&aposs very early in the year in terms of their schedules but I think one of the discussions with a very leading player last week, he knew the Open was in Sydney, he knew where it was being played.” “The players are already talking about it.”