Aussies Abroad: Young guns enter world stage


They are the home-grown products on the verge of becoming household names and this week they begin their quest to conquer the world.

The professional golf year kicks into gear this week with the first full-field PGA TOUR event of 2020, the European Tour continuing their season at the South African Open and the Asian Tour and Korn Ferry Tour both hosting their respective season-opening events.

Presidents Cup representatives Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith begin 2020 with the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club where they are joined in the field by Australian Open champion Matt Jones, Cameron Davis, Rhein Gibson and Cameron Percy along with Kiwi Tim Wilkinson.

Leishman has been drawn to play with Internationals teammate Joaquin Niemann for the opening two rounds while Smith and Jones have been paired together alongside American Charley Hoffman.

In an historic first, the official pro-am of the South African Open will be played at the Soweto Country Club that has undergone an extensive refurbishment by South African legend Gary Player, the tournament proper returning to the 36-hole Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg.

Although he narrowly missed out on a full European Tour card at Q School late last year, David Micheluzzi will play in his first European Tour event outside of Australia having received a tournament invitation to take part.

Immediately after turning professional in late September, Micheluzzi was tied for 11th at the TX Civil & Logistics WA PGA Championship and backed that up with a tie for seventh at the Victorian PGA Championship, his tie for 33rd at the Australian Open helping to improve his world ranking by 104 spots.

Like Micheluzzi, Maverick Antcliff is making his European Tour debut beyond Aussie shores, earning his place in the field by virtue of his three-win season that earned him the China Golf Association Order of Merit in 2019.

Ranked 593rd in the world this time last year, Antcliff finished inside the top 25 in 16 of the 22 events he played last year and has the opportunity to open the door to more starts in Europe with a strong week in South Africa.

With a full card on the secondary Challenge Tour secured West Australian Jarryd Felton will be hoping to make a strong early impression while Min Woo Lee needs to play well early in the year to secure more starts as the year progresses having just failed to retain his card.

At the Hong Kong Open where Australians have enjoyed success in recent years, exciting Kiwi prospect Denzel Ieremia has accepted an invite to play along with fellow New Zealander Gareth Paddison and 15 Aussies.

Past champions Scott Hend (2014), Sam Brazel (2016) and Wade Ormsby (2017) commence their 2020 seasons in Hong Kong along, Hend drawn to play with American superstar Tony Finau in the opening two rounds having finished second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit last year.

Sarawak Championship winner Andrew Dodt, AV Jennings NSW Open champion Josh Younger and Asian Tour regulars such as Terry Pilkadaris, Travis Smyth, Jake Higginbottom as well as two-time Asian Tour winner Marcus Fraser will all be eager to start the new year on the right foot.

The Korn Ferry Tour commences on Sunday with The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay, the field still to be finalised but likely to include Aussies Ryan Ruffels, Brett Coletta, Jamie Arnold, Brett Drewitt and Kiwi Steven Alker.

Round 1 tee times AEDT

Asian Tour

Hong Kong Open

10.10am             Andrew Martin, Wilson Choy, James Leow (a)

10.10am*           Sam Brazel, Charlie Wi, Gunn Charoenkul

10.40am             Marcus Fraser, Chikkarangappa S, Chapchai Nirat

10.50am             Andrew Dodt, S.S.P Chawrasia, Kyongjun Moon

11am    Daniel Fox, Viraj Madappa, Jack Harrison

11.20am             Denzel Ieremia, Huang Wenyi, Tan Chi Hin Lou (a)

11.50am*           Aaron Pike, Isaac Lam (a), Settee Prakongvech

2.30pm Scott Hend, Andrea Pavan, Tony Finau

2.40pm Wade Ormsby, Phachara Khongwatmai, Ajeetesh Sandhu

3.10pm Daniel Nisbet, Berry Henson, Liang Wenchong

3.30pm Terry Pilkadaris, Zhang Lianwei, Taewoo Kim #1468

3.50pm Jason Norris, Gareth Paddison, Mardan Mamat

2.40pm*             Jake Higginbottom, Poom Saksansin, Byungjun Kim

3.20pm*             Travis Smyth, Prom Meesawat, Rashid Khan

3.30pm*             Josh Younger, Soomin Lee, Wang Wei-lun

3.40pm*             David Gleeson, Ben Wong (a), Kwanchai Tannin

3.50pm*             Adam Blyth, Alexander Yang (a), Motin Yeung

* Starting from 11th tee

European Tour

South African Open

5.15pm David Micheluzzi, Clinton Grobler, Chris Swanepoel

​5.25pm Maverick Antcliff, Dave Coupland, Andre De Decker

6.40pm Min Woo Lee, Niklas Lemke, Jake Roos

8.05pm Brett Rumford, Jbe Kruger, Rhys Enoch

9.50pm Jarryd Felton, Thabiso Ngcobo, Yurav Premlall

US PGA TOUR

Sony Open

3.50am*              Marc Leishman, Lanto Griffin, Joaquin Niemann

4.50am*              Rhein Gibson, Scott Harrington, Rafael Campos

7.50am*              Tim Wilkinson, Zac Blair, Roger Sloan

8.10am Cameron Smith, Matt Jones, Charley Hoffman

9.10am Cameron Percy, Emiliano Grillo, Luke List

9.30am Cameron Davis, Matthew NeSmith, Jared Sawada

* Starting from 10th tee

Korn Ferry Tour

The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay

Tournament begins on Sunday, January 12, field still to be finalised at time of publication


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