Sydney - Brandt Snedeker hasn't played the Australian Open
since 2007 but the memory of his costly mistake in the final round hasn't
Snedeker lost by a shot to Craig Parry when he called a
penalty on himself on the 14th hole of the final round at The Australian Golf
Club because the ball moved as he tried to shift some twigs around it.
"It was a no-brainer penalty," Snedeker said.
A nine-time winner on the PGA Tour, Snedeker is joined by
fellow Americans Matt Kuchar, who won last week's PGA Tour event in Mexico, and
Keegan Bradley in the field this week at The Lakes, just down the road from The
"Really cool undulations, and the green complexes here
are very difficult," Snedeker said after playing nine holes on the course
for the first time. "It's one of those places where you have to put the
ball in the right spots on the greens to give yourself chances. If the wind
blows, though, it's going to be survival."
Missing from the Open this year are two of Australia's top
players, Jason Day, whose wife is expecting a baby, and Adam Scott. Jordan
Spieth, a two-time champion, has also decided not to travel Down Under this
year, and the field is one of the weakest for the tournament in years.
Geoff Ogilvy, who won the Australian Open at The Lakes in
2010, was quoted as saying in Golf Australia magazine that he's disappointed
the tournament, first played in 1904, isn't what it was back in the days when
Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman were adding their
names to the Stonehaven Cup.
The prize money of $903 000 and $163 000 to the winner this
year can't compete with other tournaments around the world.
"We are now playing the Australian Open for less money
than when I turned professional two decades ago," Ogilvy said. "It was
a big tournament back then. Played towards the end of the northern hemisphere
summer it was surrounded by a few other big events. So players from elsewhere
could bring their families and make the long trip worthwhile. It made
Ogilvy said the increasing investment in rival tours means
players and sponsor money is going elsewhere.
"The economic clout of the PGA Tour has done much to
ruin so many events held outside the United States," Ogilvy said.
"Only those in the Middle East and maybe the HSBC event in China have been
able to compete financially."
Kuchar on Wednesday said the Australian Open's history, and
not the prize money, is a reason he's in Sydney.
"It adds to the allure of coming and playing and trying
to put your name on that list of champions," Kuchar said."It is a
national Open ... golf's such a big part of sport and people's lives in
The Australian Open field should improve next year when it
is moved to the week before the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne. The 2019
Open is scheduled Dec. 5-8 at The Australian.
Traditionally, many of the top US and International players
in the Presidents Cup come to Australia a week early to get over jet lag and
acclimatize to the Australian conditions.
The Australian Open will be the first qualifying tournament
for next year's British Open at Royal Portrush, with the top three players not
already exempt earning spots.