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Golf Australia Express : OTG Express 172
Phone (03) 5338 3010 www.ballaratgolfclub.com.au 1800 Sturt Street, Ballarat BALLARAT’S PREMIER GOLF COURSE ■ 18 holes of golf ■ plus lunch from the lounge menu click here for all the info SOCIAL GOLF DEAL SOCIAL GOLF DEAL $35 PER GOLFER top-25 players each year), player commitments are usually released for the Masters later than the other two tournaments, naming-rights sponsorship appears to perennially be a last-minute deal and even the host course became public less than four months ago. The November date remains problematic, too. It routinely comes up against the crescendo events on the European Tour and nowadays the tail-end ones on the US PGA Tour as well. If just one of our ‘big three’ tournaments were to join the Perth International in a late-summer date, the Masters appears most likely. It was, after all, a fixture on the broader sporting calendar each February until 2001. Behind-the-scenes logistics and machinations aside, what takes place inside the gates at Huntingdale from Thursday will be the highlight. Adam Scott is back, looking to win a third gold jacket in four years, and he’ll be joined by Steven Bowditch, who achieved something his fellow Queenslander could not in 2015 by winning again on the US Tour, a four-shot victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Bowditch plays with the power and abandon of another swashbuckling Queenslander, one who won six gold jackets between 1981 and 1990. Ernie Els was the other major signing, but he announced his withdrawal last week after deciding to spend the week with his family instead. It was a blow for tournament organisers, as even though the Big Easy ranks 168th in the world these days, he still pulls a gallery. Els also has history on the Sandbelt after winning three straight Heineken Classics at Royal Melbourne from 2002 to 2004. While Huntingdale boasts a lavish new clubhouse, the golf course the players encounter will look familiar to those who played the most recent Masters there in 2008, when Rod Pampling toppled Marcus Fraser in extra holes. The same ball-striking combination of power and control that the Shark displayed with aplomb in his prime will be called upon once more, while the slick greens command eternal respect. So we return to familiar ground for a familiar tournament with a recognisable prize. Just how long the Australian Masters remains that way is the intriguing side-story. OTG PREVIEW
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OTG Express 173