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Friday, 19 March 2010
Sergio Garcia will attempt to start his 2002 European Tour campaign in as much style as he did in America when he lines up in this week's Johnnie Walker Classic at Lake Karrinyup Country Club, Perth, Western Australia.

The 22 year old Spaniard kicked off his US PGA Tour season with victory in the curtain-raising event, the Mercedes Championships in Hawaii at the beginning of the month, holing a ten foot birdie putt on the first play-off hole to defeat reigning US PGA Champion David Toms.

Now Garcia will be keen to make as big an impression Down Under and improve on his only participation in the event so far, last year at the Alpine Golf and Sports Club in Bangkok, where he claimed a share of 19th place as Tiger Woods took the title.

The World Number One is not competing this year but the 156-strong field remains highly impressive, comprising 60 European Tour players, 60 Australasian Tour players, 28 Asian PGA Tour players - the Tours who tri-sanction the event - and eight sponsors' invitations.
Aside from Garcia, players confirmed for the event include Nick Faldo, Retief Goosen, Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood, who between them have won the last ten Volvo Order of Merit titles Faldo (1992), Goosen (2001), Montgomerie (1993-1999), and Westwood (2000).

Also in field will be the 1997 Champion Ernie Els and Michael Campbell, who won the title in 2000 at The Westin Resort, Ta Shee, Taiwan. Two years ago the New Zealander relegated Geoff Ogilvy to the runners-up spot before the Australian occupied the same place behind Woods in 2001.

The 24 year old from Melbourne will not attempt to make it third time lucky but there will be a strong representation amongst his compatriots, trying to become the first Australian to win the title since Greg Norman triumphed at Blue Canyon in Phuket in 1994.

Leading the way will be young guns Aaron Baddeley and Adam Scott, who each picked up their maiden European Tour successes within a month of each other at the beginning of last season, Baddeley winning the Greg Norman Holden International while Scott took the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.

Justin Rose, the new dunhill championship winner, will also be competing fresh from his victory at Houghton Golf Club.

All competitors were given a boost with the news that the overall prize fund for the event has risen by £100,000 to £900,000. It has made the Johnnie Walker Classic Australia's richest golf tournament, with the champion on Sunday picking up 243,640 euro (£150,000).

Founded in 1928, Lake Karrinyup has been the venue for the Australian Open four times and has included such luminaries as Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player amongst its champions. It has also hosted the Western Australian Open, won by Norman.

The course was redesigned and lengthened in January last year. Stephen Morley, Global Director for Johnnie Walker, commented: "We are looking forward to a fantastic event and one which will help us celebrate the amazing achievements of some of the world's best golfers."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1RILEY, WayneAUS181
2GOOSEN, RetiefRSA18-14
3FULKE, PierreSWE18-6
4GARCIA, SergioESP18-5
5ELS, ErnieRSA18-2
T6DYSON, SimonENG18-1
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