Devlin to lead past champions at Australian Open

BY | Australasian PGA Tour | 2004 Australian Open | General | 07 Oct 2004
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Bruce Devlin is among many former winners who have accepted invitations to compete in the 2004 Hillross Australian Open. In all, 13 former champions are expected to play in the Open’s centenary edition at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney from November 25 – 28.

Colin Phillips, Executive Director of the Australian Golf Union, extended invitations to all former living champions of the Hillross Australian Open in recognition of the championship’s centenary celebrations. The Australian GC was the scene of the inaugural Australian Open back in 1904.

The 13 past champions to have accepted the AGU’s invites are: Bruce Devlin, Bob Shearer, Peter Fowler, Rodger Davis, Peter Senior, John Morse, Wayne Riley, Robert Allenby, Greg Chalmers, Aaron Baddeley, Stuart Appleby, Stephen Allan and 2003 winner Peter Lonard.

The great Norman Von Nida will be attending the Centenary Australian Open pending approval from his Doctor. Von Nida’s record is imposing, winning in 1950, ’51 and ’53 and finishing second on six occasions. He was the dominant player in Europe in the late 1940’s and came close to winning the British Open on two occasions. The 90-year-old legend, known worldwide as “The Von”, was a trailblazer for Australian golf during the middle of last century.

Colin Phillips believes it will be especially fitting if Von Nida can attend the Open in November. “Von Nida’s contribution to Australian Golf and the Australian Open in particular has been emmence,” said Phillips. “His playing record is magnificent and he has provided guidance and inspiration for many of the biggest names of world golf over the years.”

Bruce Devlin won the Australian Open in 1960 at Lake Karrinyup while still an amateur and was runner-up to Gary Player in 1963 and to Jack Nicklaus after an 18-hole playoff in 1964. Devlin went on to win three Australian PGA titles and eight times in the US.

In fact, Devlin is one of only two players to have won the Australian Open since 1946 as an amateur. The other player in this special group is Aaron Baddeley. Baddeley won the first of his two Australian Open titles as a 19-year-old amateur at Royal Sydney in 1999 and successfully defended the championship in 2000 at Kingston Heath soon after turning professional.

Bob Shearer and John Morse will especially welcome a return to the Australian GC this year as it was the scene of their victories. Shearer held off none other than Nicklaus in 1982 while the likeable American Morse beat Craig Parry in a playoff in 1990.

Two well-known Australians who made their mark on their national championship in the 1980’s were Rodger Davis and Peter Senior. Davis broke through for his first Australian Open in 1986 at Metropolitan beating Shearer, Graham Marsh and Ian Baker-Finch by a shot. Senior stormed home at Kingston Heath in 1989 by seven during a phenomenal summer for the Queenslander.

Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby, who have both won on numerous occasions in the US, rate their Australian Open victories incredibly highly. Allenby won at Royal Sydney in 1994 while Appleby, now ranked 13 in the world, shot a brilliant closing 65 to win at The Grand on the Gold Coast in 2001.

Peter Fowler, Wayne Riley, Greg Chalmers and Stephan Allan were each considered surprise winners in their respective years. Fowler beat Ian Baker-Finch by three shots at Kingston Heath in 1983. The exciting Riley is best remembered for his remarkable surge over the final holes at Royal Melbourne in 1991 to beat Allenby by a stroke. The left-hander Chalmers held off an especially strong field on a tough Royal Adelaide layout in 1998 just days before the staging of the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne while Allan triumphed at Victoria GC in 2002.

Whilst not playing in the championship, the following past champions will be attending to help celebrate the Centenary – Norman Von Nida (pending Doctor’s approval), Peter Thomson, Bruce Crampton, Frank Phillips, Kel Nagle and of course Arnold Palmer. David Graham is also likely to attend but will not be playing.

Source – IMG

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