Tiger Woods and his Presidents Cup comrades aren’t gracing our shores this year, but Greg Chalmers insists it doesn’t mean he’ll get an easy run as he defends his Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship titles.
Chalmers beat the likes of American stars Woods, Bubba Watson, Nick Watney and Dustin Johnson and fellow Australians John Senden, Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott and Jason Day to win last year’s Australian Open.
Then to cap off a dream fortnight, he won the Australian PGA Championship in a playoff with Robert Allenby and Marcus Fraser in a field including Watson, 2011 British Open champion Darren Clarke, Scott, Day, Aaron Baddeley and Greg Norman.
Golf in Australia was a flurry of activity at the time due to the presence of the Presidents Cup battle between the US and Internationals at Royal Melbourne in between the Open and PGA.
But sadly for golf fans, the depth of talent in Australia’s tournaments won’t be nearly as strong this year.
The problem is exacerbated with so many top Australians including stalwarts Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Nick O’Hern, Rod Pampling, Nathan Green and Mat Goggin struggling on the US PGA Tour this season while young star Day and Baddeley, whose wife is expecting, have ruled out a return to the Australian events.
Australia’s summer of golf teed off last week with the inaugural $US2 million Perth international, won by world No.24 Bo van Pelt at Lake Karrinyup.
World No.10 Jason Dufner, 2011 US Masters winner Charl Schwartzel, former world No.3 Paul Casey and Chalmers also featured at the event, but the talent pool was thin after that.
Next up on the calendar is the November 15-18 Australian Masters at Melbourne’s Kingston Heath, which is headlined by world No.6 Scott, former US Open champion Graeme McDowell and defending champion Ian Poulter.
The December 6-9 Australian Open at The Lakes in Sydney will be relying on world No 5 Justin Rose, eight-times major champion winner Tom Watson at age 63 and Australian quartet Scott, Chalmers, Senden and Ogilvy to bring in the fans.
And 57-year-old former world No.1 Norman will no doubt be the fan favourite at the December 13-16 PGA Championship, which will again feature Northern Ireland’s Clarke plus Senden and Ogilvy.
Despite fewer big names featuring in Australian events this year, Chalmers said he’d still have to be on top of his game to win the Open and PGA.
“Certainly I beat a really strong field last year, but ultimately you only need one guy to play fantastically that week and he’s going to beat you,” Chalmers said.
Chalmers finished 10th at the Perth International, and predicted a bright future for the event, which was co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia.
Van Pelt is eager to come back and defend his title next year, and said he’d do his best to bring a swag of top-line American golfers with him.
“I’ll be spreading the word of what a great event this is and guys need to come and check it out,” van Pelt said after securing a two-shot victory over world No.10 American Jason Dufner.