Date: December 10, 2008
Author: Adam Lucius, Sportal

Rankin still pinching himself

Unknown Queenslander Brett Rankin would love to emulate Greg Norman&aposs massive deeds on the world golfing stage – but he&aposll be happy if he doesn&apost follow in his hero&aposs footsteps when teeing off at the Australian Open on Thursday. A nervous Norman, yet to turn professional, famously topped his first tee shot while partnering the legendary Jack Nicklaus in the 1975 Australian Open. Norman recovered from his bout of stage fright to carve out a magnificent career but never forgot that jaw-dropping moment. Rankin, a last-minute inclusion in the Open field after Adam Scott&aposs withdrawal, will understand how &aposThe Shark&apos felt 33 years ago when he partners Robert Allenby and defending champion Craig Parry over the opening two rounds at Royal Sydney. Told of Norman&aposs first tee disaster, Rankin joked: “If I beat that then I&aposm a little better than Greg Norman … I wish.” “I&aposll just be happy to hit the middle of the club face off the first tee – that&aposs all I&aposll be going for.” The Queensland amateur just failed to qualify for the Australian Open and was named as the first alternate. He had been waiting for the phone to ring but was losing hope until Scott informed tournament organisers his injured knee hadn&apost healed sufficiently for him to play. Rankin&aposs head has been spinning since being told he would take Scott&aposs place. The 22-year-old had to organise a mate to fly down from Brisbane to caddy for him, while his parents will have to be content to watch their son on TV due to work commitments. “I was told I was first alternate and I&aposve been waiting for the phone call to tell me someone&aposs pulling out,” he said. “To take Adam Scott&aposs spot is pretty exciting.” “It&aposs going to be awesome. I&aposm just trying to make my way in golf and I&aposm looking forward to the challenge.” Listing his previous career highlights as gaining selection in the national amateur squad and leading the Queensland Open after the first round, the unaffected Rankin will now walk the Royal Sydney course with two of Australia&aposs finest golfers in Parry and Allenby. “It should be interesting. I will be asking a lot of questions over the next two days and try and get as much out of them as I can,” the rookie said. “I will ask questions but also respect the thing they do on the golf course and not try and get in their way too much.” “I don&apost reckon I will get my head around it for a few days. It&aposs all a bit of a shock.”