Lowdown:
The European Tour season may have ended in Dubai but there’s still top-class competition to enjoy this week with the JBWere Australian Masters in Melbourne. Stuart Appleby is the defending champion and Luke Donald is on the start-sheet.
This tournament began life back in 1979 when it was contested at Huntingdale Golf club in Melbourne. It’s well known for the presentation of a gold jacket to the victor and it has become one of the most prestigious events held in Australia.
The JBWere Masters has seen notable Australian winners since its inception. Greg Norman was dominant in the early years, winning six times between 1981 and 1990. Ian Baker Finch, Craig Parry, Richard Green, Peter Lonard and Aaron Baddeley have all tasted victory in this event.
In 2008 IMG entered a partnership with the Victoria Government to elevate this tournament by attracting top quality players. That was reflected by the 2009 winner – Tiger Woods. He was controversially paid an appearance fee of $3,000,000, half of which came out of the Victorian taxpayers’ pockets.
This year, current World Number 1 Luke Donald will tee it up at the Victoria Golf Course in Melbourne, as will fellow Englishman Ian Poulter. Italian sensation Matteo Manassero will start, as will Robert Allenby and Geoff Ogilvy.
It’s thought that the Australian pair will bury the hatchet this week following their dispute about the Presidents Cup. Allenby had complained that his playing partners (including Ogilvy) had let him down in the biennial team event.
“It was fairly blown out of proportion,” said Ogilvy. “I never had an issue with Robert, just with what he said to the press.”
In last year’s JBWere Masters Stuart Appleby closed with an excellent 65 to finish one clear of fellow Aussies, Adam Bland and Daniel Gaunt.
Appleby is on the start sheet this week but, a niggling back injury could still put his participation in doubt.

Venue: Victoria Golf Course, Melbourne
Date: Dec 15-18
Purse: $1,000,000
Defending Champion: Stuart Appleby

TV Coverage:
Thursday 15 – Sky Sports 1 from 10.30am
Friday 16 – Sky Sports 1 from 10.30am
Saturday 17 – Sky Sports 1 from 10.30am
Sunday 18 – Sky Sports 3 from 10.30am

Player Watch:
Luke Donald – The most consistent player in the world, Donald is currently a permanent fixture near the top of leaderboards across the globe. He’s just become the first player to secure both the European and PGA Tour money lists and will surely be on a high following the achievement.

Peter Fowler – The veteran could spring a surprise here. He’s enjoyed a fantastic year, winning the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit.

Ian Poulter – He’s without a strokeplay victory in 2011 and he’d love to rectify that here. He showed good form in Hong Kong and played solidly in the Dubai World Championship. Look for him to get the bit between his teeth and grind out a victory here.

Where next?
TaylorMade –
R11S and RocketBallz RBZ to launch