In the first of several major player announcements, defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, Presidents Cup captains Greg Norman and Fred Couples, World Number 11 Bubba Watson and World Number 13 Dustin Johnson have confirmed they will be playing in the $1.5 million 2011 Australian Open in Sydney from 10-13 November.
In what is shaping up to be one of the biggest years for Australian golf on record, the quintet are the first marquee players to confirm their places at Australia’s most revered championship which will be played at The Lakes Golf Club in 2011 and 2012. Other names will be released in the near future.
In 2010 Ogilvy won his first Stonehaven Cup by four shots from Sydney-born Matt Jones at The Lakes and finished a narrow second at the Australian PGA Championship the following week.
The 33 year-old said he was delighted to be able to defend his title during a year in which the spotlight will firmly be on Australian golf.
““Winning the Stonehaven Cup for the first time last year was a special moment in my career and something I’ll always remember, being my National Open,” Ogilvy said
“It’s fantastic to hear that so many of the US and International Team members will be in Sydney before the Presidents Cup,” Ogilvy added.
Big hitting American Bubba Watson will play the Australian Open for the first time since 2005.
The World Number 11 has been in outstanding form on the PGA Tour this year, winning twice on the PGA Tour and is currently leading the FedEx Cup rankings.
“I’m really looking forward to playing in the Australian Open in Sydney,” Watson said.
“It will be my first trip to Sydney and I’ll certainly be aiming to leave the Harbour City with the Stonehaven Cup.”
Fellow American Dustin Johnson will make the Australian Open his first career appearance Down Under. At just 25, Johnson is four-time US PGA Tour winner including the BMW Championship in last year’s FedEx Cup Play Offs.
Greg Norman, a five-time winner of the Australian Open, returns to The Lakes with fellow Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples as the pair complete their preparation for the following week.
Two-time British Open champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member Norman last lifted the Stonehaven Cup in 1996.
Golf Australia CEO Stephen Pitt said Sydney would see a spectacular array of golfing talent.
“We’re delighted that Geoff, Greg and Fred will make a welcome return to the Australian Open and to welcome Bubba and Dustin to Sydney for the first time,” Pitt said.
“There is the potential for this to be one of the most impressive Australian Open fields in a long time and we’ve got ongoing interest from many of the world’s best players to play and we are looking forward to making further announcements.”
“We have been very fortunate with the support we have received from our event partner World Sport Group and also from the PGA, who made the important decision to make the Australian Open Championship the lead-in event to the President’s Cup and have done some tremendous work in key areas to help ensure the event’s success,” Pitt said.
“We are really pleased with how the tournament is shaping up and we know it will play a central role in what will be a terrific time for Australian golf.”
The Championship will again be co-sanctioned by OneAsia and the PGA Tour of Australasia.
The Australian Open was first played in 1904 and has been won by the biggest names in the game. South African Gary Player has lifted the Stonehaven Cup a record seven times while Jack Nicklaus from the United States has been victorious on six occasions.
The Australian Open will be played at The Lakes Golf Club from 10-13 November 2011, the week preceding The Presidents Cup.