Date: July 15, 2008

Popeye given pole position for Open

2008 Australasian Tour Order of Merit Champion Craig Parry will have the honour of hitting the first ball when the 137th Open Championship begins on Thursday. He is grouped with Lucas Glover of the USA and England&aposs Simon Dyson for a 6.30am tee-off. Parry will lead out a twenty strong Australasian contingent consisting of 18 Aussies and two kiwis. The Australian s taking part in this year&aposs event make them the third-largest contingent behind the United States (42) and England (27). World number three Geoff Ogilvy is the highest ranked among the 20 hopefuls from down under who will be looking to continue the history of Aussie success at Royal Birkdale. 2008 will be the ninth time The Open will be staged at Royal Birkdale with the Aussies claiming three of the previous eight titles. Peter Thomson won in 1954, the first of his five career Open victories and the first time the event was held at Royal Birkdale. He won there again in 1965 and most recently Ian Baker-Finch claimed the title in 1991. Since then, Greg Norman is the only other Australian to claim The Open Championship, in 1993, when he won by two shots from Nick Faldo at Royal St George s in England. Norman returns this week to play in his 26th OPEN Championship and is joined in the field by Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Aaron Baddeley, Rohan Blizzard, Adam Blyth, Michael Campbell NZL, Peter Fowler, Richard Green, Brendan Jones, Brad Lamb, Geoff Ogilvy, Nick O Hern, Rod Pampling, Craig Parry, Ewan Porter, Adam Scott, David Smail NZL, Scott Strange and Andrew Tampion. The Australasian contingent is a mix of youth and experience and ranges from Norman who is making his 26th appearance and Parry his 17th, to a group of young aussies including Adam Blyth, Brad Lamb, Scott Strange, Andrew Tampion & amateur Rohan Blizard who will make their first ever appearance at a Major. copy courtesy: PGA Tour Australia