Michael Campbell has dominated the Heineken Classic for the past two seasons and this week the New Zealander will be seeking to complete his hat-trick as the tournament moves to the Royal Melbourne Golf Club for the first time.
Twelve months ago Campbell demonstrated the quality and consistency which have elevated him to the forefront of world golf by becoming the first player to successfully defend the title, finishing five strokes clear of compatriot David Smail at The Vines Resort, Perth. A year earlier he had claimed his second successive title on The European Tour International Schedule when he followed his maiden victory in the Johnnie Walker Classic with a record breaking triumph in the Heineken Classic. His closing 66 gave him a record low winning score of 20 under par 268, six strokes clear of the 1998 champion Thomas Björn.
Victory for Campbell this week would secure his place in the record books once again as only the fifth player since The European Tour began in 1972 to win an official event three years in a row, joining Nick Faldo (Murphy's Irish Open 1991-93), Colin Montgomerie (Volvo PGA Championship 1998-2000), Tiger Woods (World Golf Championships - NEC Invitational 1999-2001) and Ian Woosnam (Monte Carlo Open 1990-92).
Campbell will face a world class field in his pursuit of that record third title. Among the challengers will be John Daly, who captured the BMW International Open on The 2001 European Tour International Schedule to claim his first title since his Open Championship triumph at St Andrews in 1995. Daly, who also won the 1991 US PGA Championship, will be making his debut as a European Tour Member this week.
Greg Norman, winner of the Open Championship in 1986 and 1993 and an Honorary Member of The European Tour, is also in the field, competing in the Heineken Classic for a fifth time. Norman said: "I applaud The Premier and Victoria as a whole for bringing a tournament of this magnitude to a golf course I consider to be one of the greatest in the world. Royal Melbourne should be showcased annually by a significant international event and with the sanctioning from both The European Tour and the Australasian Tour, this tournament will give the golf course the exposure it richly deserves."
Nick Faldo, six time Major Champion, will also be seeking to win the title for the first time as will Ernie Els, the fourth Major Champion in the field having captured the US Open Championship in 1994 and 1997.
Another European Tour Member relishing a return to Victoria will be last week’s runner-up Pierre Fulke, beaten by Steve Stricker in the World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play at Metropolitan Golf Club in January 2001.
The Heineken Classic, jointly sanctioned by The European Tour and the Australasian Tour since 1996, will be played over the "Presidents Cup layout" which comprises six holes of the East Course and 12 of the West Course.
The move from The Vines Resort in Perth to Royal Melbourne Golf Club, consistently ranked the Number One course in Australia, coincides with Heineken's tenth year of sponsorship. In addition to the Presidents Cup in 1998, Royal Melbourne has hosted the Australian Open on 16 occasions.