Date: March 23, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Six Aussies gear up for Augusta

Six Australians are exempt into this year’s Masters – barring a repeat of last year’s Texan heroics.

Queenslander Steve Bowditch and Sydney’s Matt Jones made last-minute arrangements to get to Georgia in 2014 after they each saluted in the “Texas Swing” – the last hurrah before the field is finalised for the first major championship of the year.

Bowditch will return to the TPC San Antonio for the Texas Open this week needing another victory to make his second Masters appearance, while Jones hopefully won’t need an extra hole to defend the Houston Open he won last year in such dramatic circumstances with a chip-in from 40m.

Jones was nothing short of outstanding at Bay Hill today, shooting his third consecutive round in the 60s to finish third behind champ Matt Every in the Arnold Palmer Invitational to prove he’s rounding into good form.

And he’ll have high hopes of success in Texas so he can join the Aussie contingent of Adam Scott, Jason Day, John Senden, Marc Leishman, Geoff Ogilvy and Adelaide amateur Antonio Murdaca in Augusta.

Australian broadcasters are also busily preparing for their Masters coverage.

Both Channel 7 and Fox Sports will carry the famous par-three contest on the morning of April 9 from 4.45am (AET).

Channel 7, through its high-definition sister station 7Mate, will show the world feed live on the first three days of the tournament proper from 4.45am (AET).

It will begin the final round, on Monday April 13 Australian time, at 3.45 (AET) until the end of play.

Fox, on either Fox Sports 2 or Fox Sports 3, will do the same, but provide additional features – as it did last year to much acclaim.

In addition to special Masters week films in the preceding days, a Fox crew headed by two-time Masters participant Brett Ogle and Tim Sheridan will provide additional live coverage.

The pair will host a 15-minute show before and after the world feed each day, as well as providing Australian updates and other news during ad breaks.

Ogle was excited to return to the hallowed turf he strolled as a participant in 1993 and ’94, particularly because he rates Day as a genuine chance to lift Australia’s second green jacket.

“He’s got a great record there already – with a runner-up and a third – and he’s got the perfect ball flight and game to win at Augusta National,” Ogle enthused.

“His game is built for the course – he hits it high and shapes it right to left. But the big thing for him this year is that he’s healthy and fit again this year. I really like his chances.”

Ogle said it was exciting for Australian golf to have Murdaca make his Masters debut after he won the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship at Royal Melbourne last year to qualify.

“It’s a special time to play your first Masters … but I think it’s great for so many kids to see what Antonio has done and what they can achieve.”