Home-grown talent on display at Victorian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia – The 2011 PGA Tour of Australasia season gets underway this week at the Victorian Open, but for many players it doubles as a warm-up for the British Open International Final Qualifying event in Melbourne.

The 36-hole event at Kingston Health Jan. 11 is a grueling all-day audition for the 140th Open Championship at Royal St. George’s, July 14-17. Three players from the field of 78 will earn spots.

But the challenge at hand begins Thursday at the AUD$120,000 Victorian Open in Melbourne at the Spring Valley Golf Club.

Since 1957, the Victorian Open has provided a spring board for some of Victoria’s best golfers, including past champions Robert Allenby, Aaron Baddeley and Geoff Ogilvy.

In the field this week is Victorian native Cameron Percy, who nearly won his first PGA Tour event in October at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He lost in a playoff to Jonathan Byrd, who aced the fourth extra hole.

Joining Percy is defending Victorian Open champion Jason Norris; 2009 champion Ashley Hall; Adam Bland, runner-up at the Australian Masters; and Alistair Presnell, who will be looking to continue the form that helped him finish second at the Australian Open last month.

Also, showcasing their talents will be Australia’s up-and-coming players, including Rick Kulacz, Rohan Blizard and recent World Amateur Golf Championship teammates Matt Jager and Kieran Pratt.

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