Date: November 02, 2006

The Defender

With less than three weeks until the first ball is struck at the 2006 MFS Australian Open, the players continue to provide first-hand accounts of their preparations, expectations and fondest memories to date. Over the next few weeks, Golf Australia s Web sites will feature exclusive editorial from stalwart Aaron Baddeley, US Open Champion Geoff Ogilvy and golfing legend Greg Norman. MFS Australian Open defending champion Robert Allenby is approaching this month s Open as he would any other event, refusing to let the memories of last year s victory, nor the pressures of a repeat performance, phase him. Here the Melbournian talks about his preparations in the coming weeks and his longing for an Aussie meat pie: It is always great to win anywhere but as a proud Australian, the Australian Open is a very important event in my schedule. To win in front of your family is really special. Even though some people may expect it, I tend not to approach defending a title any differently to another week. My preparation and processes won t change just because I won the year before. It’s always great to catch up with familiar faces back home and coupled with the fact Australia has some of the best courses in the World, it makes for a great week. Coming back to Australia also means I have a chance to relax and catch up with friends and family. The first thing I ll do when we touch down is a stretch and a workout which is the ideal remedy for jetlag. After that, a meat pie and a cold beer is what I m really looking forward to! Being back home really allows me to relax and enjoy life off the course. I am a great lover of Australian wines and in each of the past couple of trips to Australia we have taken a break with friends in one of the wine regions. Last year down at Margaret River and the year before in the Barossa Valley and both were fantastic! I m really proud of being part of the celebration of Australian golf which is what this month s MFS Australian Open is all about. I have fond memories of being a spectator in the mid-1980s and watching the likes of Greg Norman and Tom Watson. It was so inspiring to watch these guys. Their love for the game and artistry was infectious. As a player, what sticks in my mind the most was back in 1991 when I came second as an amateur at Royal Melbourne. I hit a five iron to a metre at 18 for birdie only for Wayne Riley to make a 20 metre putt to beat me by one. Three years later I managed to win at Royal Sydney. Let s hope that the course is still lucky for me come November 16. Robert Allenby