The MasterCard Masters takes its place on The European Tour International Schedule for the first time this week with Michael Campbell, the 2005 US Open Champion, and Ryder Cup star, Paul Casey, leading a stellar international cast lining-up against Australia’s finest at the Huntingdale Golf Club in Melbourne.
Campbell will be vying for his second Gold Jacket having won the title in 2000 while Casey, one of Europe’s heroes at The K Club, will be looking to make a swift return to the winners’ enclosure in the new season following a sensational 2006 campaign that yielded three victories.
“It is always nice to try and beat some of the best players in the world,” said Campbell. “I love competing against good fields and it's what gets me up in the morning so I am really looking forward to it.
“The golf course is always up to it. The changes they have made to the course over the years have been fantastic and the crowds in Melbourne are amazing. I played with Greg Norman in the 1994 Australian Masters and it was fun, it was like being in a Major – an incredible atmosphere.”
England’s Simon Dyson, winner of two titles last season, is also in action along with another of the 2006 European Tour champions, American Kevin Stadler, who captured the Johnnie Walker Classic on Australian soil in February.
Robert Allenby will be defending the title after last year becoming the first player to achieve ‘The Triple Crown’ – a hat-trick of victories in Australia’s premier events of the MFS Australian Open, the Cadbury Schweppes Australian PGA and the MasterCard Masters.
Joining Allenby amongst the home favourites are Stuart Appleby, a two time winner in 2006 who created his own triple crown by taking out a third consecutive Mercedes Championships on the US PGA Tour in early January, dual Australian Open Champion, Aaron Baddeley, who secured his maiden win in the States earlier this year, and the ever consistent Nick O’Hern.
England’s Justin Rose returns to The European Tour fold after a successful season in America during which he claimed six top ten finishes and finished the season 47th on the US PGA Tour Money List.
The MasterCard Masters will be played at Huntingdale for the 28th consecutive year and is the first of two events co-sanctioned with the Australasian Tour, preceding the Blue Chip New Zealand Open at the Gulf Harbour Country Club in Auckland.