Will Adam Scott be the first Australian to lift the Claret Jug since Greg Norman?
By Luke Elvy
This week we have 13 Australians contesting the 2012 Open Championship all hoping, just like we are, that they are holding aloft the coveted Claret Jug at week’s end.
Robert Allenby, Aaron Baddeley, Greg Chalmers, Nick Cullen, Marcus Fraser, Ash Hall, Brendan Jones, Brad Kennedy, Marc Leishman, Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, John Senden and Aaron Townsend are all busy preparing at Royal Lytham & St Annes - it would have been 14 if not for Jason Day’s withdrawal last Wednesday due to the arrival of his first born Dash James. Congratulations to Jason & Ellie.
With 156 players in the field that equates to a 1 in 12 chance of victory and they’re good odds. As Gary Koch would say “better than most” so c’mon fellas can one of you end the drought. Please!
It’s been 19 years since an Australian won the Open, Greg Norman - 1993 and six years since one of our boys won a major, Geoff Ogilvy – 2006 US Open, which poses the question, if Australia is a nation blessed with world class golfers why don’t we win the big ones more often?
It’s a question I’ve repeatedly asked our PGA Tour stars over the past three years and the answers vary from “I honestly don’t know why” to “There’s only 4 a year and they’re very hard to win.” But hasn’t that always been the case?
Australia as a nation is starting to be mocked. US golf writer Steve Elling tweeted after Jason Day’s boy was born “Of course the biggest benefit is that being born in the States & not Oz, Dash Day now has a chance to someday win the Masters. Zing!”
Does it trace back to Norman’s many near misses? Is there a curse that we don’t know about? Are we simply unlucky? Read: 2011 Masters. Whatever the reasons, I know what it really is… frustrating!
AP journalist Doug Ferguson tweeted some interesting facts ahead of this week’s Championship but none caught my eye more than this one “Last 15 majors won by 15 different players from 5 continents – North America (6), Europe (5), Africa (2), Asia (1), South America (1). Your turn Australia.
Yes it is, so who are our best hopes?
Well on form alone you’ve got to say Adam Scott. Since making winning a major his primary goal, he’s had 3 top 10’s in his last 6 starts and save for a 3-putt bogey on the last at Olympic Club last month it would have be 4. Many experts have their eye on the world number 12, who’s year would have been great if not for an unusual trend of one poor round per tournament. If he can eliminate it, he’s a very good chance of claiming that elusive major he craves.
For mine, Scott is our standout but on the next line of betting you could have a number of players however, I’m going for two in-form Victorians Fraser and Leishman. They’re both coached by Denis McDade and boast a no nonsense game which works well at Royal Lytham (there’s 205 bunkers). Golf is a confidence game and at this moment they possess plenty.
Each major throws up a roughie, think of the last three - Keegan Bradley, Bubba Watson & Webb Simpson. Sure, all are accomplished players but weren’t high on anyone’s list heading into the tournament so why can’t this one be an Aussie?
Players like Senden, Allenby, Ogilvy, Baddeley, Chalmers & Jones are all multiple winners around the world and I’ll admit while the odds are stacked against them it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if one of them won.
From here the odds get into the 500 – 1000/1 region and this is not to offend but for players like Nick Cullen, Ash Hall, Brad Kennedy and Aaron Townsend, they’ve already won by qualifying but weren’t Ben Curtis (2003) & Todd Hamilton (2004) massive outsiders?
One thing though which works against our contingent is this venue has a history of producing champions who are Hall of Famers or the world’s best, David Duval (2001), Tom Lehman (1996), Seve Ballesteros (1979 & 88), Gary Player (1974), Tony Jacklin (1969), Bobby Locke (1952) and Bobby Jones (1926).
However, it also boasts some Australasian success, Peter Thomspon won the fourth of his five Open titles in 1958 while New Zealand’s greatest player Sir Bob Charles became the first left-hander to lift the Claret Jug in 1963.
Gentleman, you have your inspiration, now go and fulfil your own dreams (and ours).
Luke Elvy hosts golf for Network TEN, is currently covering the PGA Tour in the US and is a freelance columnist for GolfAustralia.org.au His views do not necessarily represent those of Golf Australia. You can follow him on Twitter: @elvisgolf.