On-Form Els Allenby Headline Australian Open

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While young Australian phenom Aaron Baddeley will not be making a return to defend his title this week, recent winners Robert Allenby and Ernie Els spotlight the playing of the annual Australian Open at The Grand Golf Club.
 
Baddeley made history last year when he followed up his 1999 win as an amateur (the first at the event since Bruce Devlin in 1960) with a win as a professional.
 
In the 100 years the event had been contested, only a select few had won the prestigious Stonehaven Cup in two consecutive years: Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Greg Norman.
 
This year, however, Baddeley has elected to pass on the homeland Open, as he is determined to earn his way onto the 2002 PGA Tour in America through Qualifying School, which wraps up at Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., Nov. 28-Dec. 3.
 
In the 20-year-olds absence, though, Allenby and Els should provide ample relief.
 
Allenby demonstrated why he is currently Australias No. 1 golfer last week with a successful defense of the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland.
 
Meanwhile, Els teamed with reigning U.S. Open champ and fellow countryman Retief Goosen for a South African victory at the WGC-EMC World Cup.
 
If the prospect of those two powerhouses isnt enough, factor in the presence of another young gun from Australia, Adam Scott, and Danish star Thomas Bjorn.
 
Plus, 17-year-old Ty Tryon is set to compete, fresh off several strong showings as an amateur on the PGA Tour, as well as a thus-far successful run in the early stages of PGA Tour Qualifying School.
 
While the abundance of young talent will be apparent this week on the Gold Coast, Australias most famous golfer wont.
 
Norman will be in America during the Thanksgiving holiday and is set to compete with World No. 1 Tiger Woods in the Skins Game over the weekend.
 
However, in his wake is one of The Sharks creations in The Grand. Norman recently finished work on the course and not long ago added some 1,000 grape vines for the purpose of producing its own wine label.