Clayton On Australian Open

golfobserver copy.jpgMike Clayton summarizes the wild and weird Australian Open for First he covers the Mark Hensby-Greg Norman war of words:

It is impossible to win in this country if you choose to attack Norman and Hensby didn't articulate his argument well enough to convince the average golf fan. But inside the locker room there were more than a few who thought there was some merit in what he was trying to say.

Ironically, on the very first morning of the Open Norman was fifty miles away across the bay announcing the establishment of a new golf course financed by one of the countries richest men. It was not lost on some that perhaps there were 364 other days in the year that might have been a little more appropriate for Greg to promote a new development.

Of course, it is no secret that Norman has a more than prickly relationship with the Australian Golf Union and with his ex-managers, IMG, who promote and run the Open.

And then there was the Wayne Grady-Colin Phillips spat:

In a group behind, Tour chairman Wayne Grady blistered the long-serving and retiring Executive Director of the Australian Golf Union, Colin Phillips, the man responsible for the pin positions.

"Congratulations Colin for &$#%ing (rhymes with trucking) up another Australian Open. Watch-out the door doesn't hit you on the arse on the way out."

There has long been a simmering resentment between the two but it had never been voiced so personally or publicly.

Phillips response was a simple "I would have been upset if the criticism had come from a player I respected." Ouch.

And finally, my favorite part of Clayton's piece, the player perceptions of Moonah Links.

The weekend wind freshened and the players distaste for the course heightened.

Craig Parry had nothing complimentary to say and nor did Stuart Appleby and their opinions were widely reported in the newspapers. Several players privately suggested they would not be back.

Complaining players have always been sitting ducks for press who assume golf pros don't like a venue simply because it is too hard. Parry and Appleby have played plenty of hard golf courses — Parry was eight over par and a shot out of the playoff at the 1999 Open at Carnoustie — but they needed to articulate why they disliked the design of the golf course.