NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has announced Tiger Woods as the latest big name heading to Sydney in November to play the Australian Open to begin one of the greatest years ever for Australian golf.
Woods will join defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, Presidents Cup captains Greg Norman and Fred Couples, rising superstar Jason Day, world number 13 Bubba Watson and world number 7 Dustin Johnson to contest the time-honoured Stonehaven Cup.
The Open will take place from 10-13 November at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney, immediately preceding the President’s Cup.
Mr O’Farrell said Sydney is synonymous with the Australian Open, hosting the inaugural championship in 1904, on 35 occasions overall and continuously since 2006.
“The Open’s tradition, heritage and history is reflected in its honour roll of some of world golf’s greatest players and all Australia’s leading golfers regard winning the Stonehaven Cup as a career highlight.
“Tiger Woods’ participation is great news for the Open and comes as a result of a lot of hard work to secure the coveted lead-in dates to the President’s Cup.”
“We caught the Shark and now we have snared the Tiger to give him the chance to join the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Gene Sarazen, Greg Norman, Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer and Peter Thomson on the Open’s honour roll,” he said.
Woods confirmed he was very much looking forward to playing in the event.
“I’m very excited to be competing in the Australian Open,” said Woods. “I haven’t played in the tournament since 1996, and I’m anxious to return. I have a great affinity for playing golf in Australia and I’m looking forward to competing against an outstanding field at The Lakes in Sydney.”
Golf Australia CEO Stephen Pitt said this announcement is another important part of the strategy to build the Open as a pre-eminent event on the burgeoning OneAsia tour.
“OneAsia continues to grow each year with the 2011 schedule involving tournaments in China, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia – including the Australian Open.
“OneAsia is an extremely important development for Australian golf and additionally it helps our strategic partnership with Destination NSW to grow the Australian Open and it aligns particularly well with NSW’s key trade and tourism markets,” Mr Pitt said.
CEO of the PGA of Australia and the PGA Tour of Australasia, Brian Thorburn, is looking forward to the biggest year in Australian golf and is sure that Woods will add to the excitement and anticipation already held by Australian sports fans.
“This year is set to be the biggest for Australian golf in recent times; we have stellar fields for the Australian Open and the PGA Championship and the world’s best playing the Presidents Cup. It’s wonderful to be able to welcome Tiger to play in the Australian Open, he is always a crowd pleaser and is sure to bring thousands of golf lovers out to The Lakes in early November.”
“Tiger’s presence in Australia’s most prestigious tournament will further enhance what is certain to be a huge summer of Australian golf,” said Thorburn.
“Tiger will be joined in Australia by the world’s best golfers and while we have already made plenty of player announcements we still intend to make more.”
Day, Norman and Watson will likewise play the PGA Championship presented by Coca-Cola at the Hyatt Regency Coolum as will The Open Champion Darren Clarke, but Thorburn says it’s still a case of ‘watch this space.’
“We know there are a lot of Presidents Cup players wanting to play in our PGA Tour of Australasia events and we expect there will be plenty more announcements in the coming weeks.”
“The PGA is expecting record crowds and record television audiences, in particular for the Australian Open and PGA Championship presented by Coca-Cola. It’s safe to say this summer will ensure Australian golf is on the world map and we are more than prepared to capitalise on this opportunity for the ongoing growth of the entire golf industry.”
Tickets for the Australian Open can be purchased from the 15th August through Ticketek by phoning 13 28 49 or www.ticketek.com.au