Former world No.1 Jason Day is making a rare visit home to headline the Australian Open in Sydney this December.
Jason Day will contest the Australian Open golf championship for only the fourth time in more than a decade as officials promise “one of the strongest” fields in years.
Leveraging off the Presidents Cup in Melbourne the following week, Golf Australia boss Stephen Pitt hopes to have “around nine” of the 12-strong International team tuning up in the Open at The Australian in Sydney from December 5-8
Former world No.1 Day still needs a captain’s pick from Ernie Els to make the Presidents Cup after missing automatic selection following his least productive season since 2010.
But he is a shoo-in to get that and join countrymen Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and debutant Cameron Smith on the International team to tackle Tiger Woods’ formidable US line-up at Royal Melbourne.
Day’s appearance at the Australian Open will mark only his fourth crack at his national championship since two appearances as a teenage amateur in 2004-05.
He held the third-round lead on his last attempt, also at The Australian two years ago, before finishing fifth behind Cameron Davis.
Based in Ohio and with three children, Day has found it difficult in recent years to return home for the most prestigious event on Australian golf calendar, not least because the Open often clashes with Thanksgiving Day in the US.
The major winner’s inclusion will be a massive boost, particularly with many of the American stars including world No.1 Brooks Koepka expected to warm up for the Presidents Cup at Woods’ Hero World Challenge invitational in The Bahamas.
“A whole bunch of the Americans will be playing Tiger’s event but, in a bit of a flip to last time (in 2011), we’re hoping to have a lot of the International team here,” Pitt told AAP.
“We hope to have around nine of the International team here so it will still be one of the strongest fields in years.”
Smith has already committed to the Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship, where he is the two-time defending champion, the two weeks either side of the Presidents Cup.
Pitt is also confident of securing Scott, who opted out of the Open the past two years having played nine straight prior, and Leishman.
That would allow fans to see Australian golf’s big four on the same fairways for the first time since Smith debuted eight years ago.
“Adam’s not a lock yet but talks have been promising,” Pitt said.
Leishman has only contested five of the past 10 Australian Opens but has been a regular in recent years at the Australian PGA and is expected to tee up at The Australian this year.
In addition to the Australian heavyweights, it’s understood Els’ other automatic qualifiers – Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, South African Louis Oosthuizen, reigning champion Abraham Ancer of Mexico, China’s Haotong Li and Taiwan’s C.T Pan – have all been strongly advised to play the Australian Open.