Aaron Baddeley returns to The Lakes Golf Club this week for the ANZ Championship looking to rekindle the magic that helped him capture his maiden European Tour title last year.
The young Australian underlined his immense talent when he captured the Greg Norman Holden International over the Sydney course on his European Tour debut last season, defeating Sergio Garcia at the first extra hole of a sudden-death play-off.
It was not the first time Baddeley featured in the record books. Two years earlier he stunned the world of golf when he became the first player since Bruce Devlin in 1960 to win the Australian Open as an amateur, and at 18 he was the youngest player to win the title. The following year he successfully defended the title in his first season as a professional.
While this is the first time the event, joint sanctioned by The European Tour and the Australasian Tour, has featured on The European Tour International Schedule, the ANZ Championship has been part of the Australasian Tour since 1998, with Peter Lonard claiming the title last year at Concord Golf Club.
Peter O'Malley, winner of the 2001 Compass Group English Open, is among those expected to mount a home challenge while Jarmo Sandelin, winner of the first event of the 2002 Volvo Order of Merit campaign, is also in the field.
The format for the ANZ Championship will be a modified stableford system, with eight points awarded for an albatross, five for an eagle and two for a birdie. Pars are worth no points while a bogey will cost the players a point. Double bogeys or more will see three points subtracted from a player's score.
A modified stableford system was last used on The European Tour in 1991 for the last of three Murphy's Cups when Tony Johnstone won the title, although with a slightly different points allocation. This particular system has been adopted for The International at Castle Pines Golf Club, Denver, on the US PGA Tour. The winner this week will earn an invitation to compete in The International.
The modified stableford system provides players with the opportunity to attack a golf course aggressively in search of birdies and eagles but, even with five par fives, The Lakes Golf Club seldom surrenders any albatrosses.
The second hole, a 515 yard par five provides the first opportunity for an eagle and is comfortably reachable in two while the eighth hole, at 548 yards, can also be reached with the second shot depending on the prevailing wind.
But it is on the back nine, with three par fives, all with substantial water carries, that scores can be made. The 11th hole measures 577 yards, the 14th hole 534 yards and the 17th hole 494 yards and all are sure to provide plenty of excitement.
The original Lakes Golf Course was opened in 1930. The construction of Southern Cross Drive forced the Club to cease play in 1968 while the course was rebuilt to a design by Robert von Hagge and Bruce Devlin. Play on the course commenced in 1970.
In 1989, golf course architects Newton Grant and Spencer prepared a design master plan for the Lakes and five years later the same firm was selected to redesign and construct the greens and surrounds. The Lakes Golf Club is widely regarded as one of the finest courses in Australia.