Ernie Els will play the Australian Open. Picture: Getty Images
Ernie Els will play the Australian Open. Picture: Getty Images

Another big name signs up for Australian Open

ERNIE Els has entered himself in this year's Australian Open, raising the possibility that the four-time major winner might also make a surprise appearance for the International Team at the Presidents Cup.

Although Els is not among the eight automatic qualifiers for the International Team, as captain he will get to choose the remaining four players to take on the Americans and has been urged to pick himself because of his proven record in big events.

It's the exact same predicament that the US captain Tiger Woods finds himself in and while it's every Australian golf fan's Christmas wish that both men will play, they are keeping their selections close to their chest although the decision by Els to play the Australian Open is the proof that he will at least be bringing his clubs with him.

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'The Big Easy' has already made it clear that he wants everyone on his team play at The Australian Golf Club from December 5-8 to fine-tune their games for the Presidents Cup in Melbourne a week later and now he'll be joining them on the greens.

Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Cam Smith have already taken his advice and signed up for the Open while Els' fellow smooth-swinging South African Louis Oosthuizen is also coming, with more big names, including Adam Scott, to confirm their participation in the coming weeks.

Already a multiple winner of the British Open, the US Open, the South African Open and the Scottish Open, the closest Els has come to winning the Australian Open was when he finished third to Stuart Appleby in 2001 and the 49-year-old would love to get his name engraved on the Stonehaven Cup, alongside his countryman Gary Player, who won the tournament a record seven times.

Australian star Jason Day will be there. Picture: Getty Images
Australian star Jason Day will be there. Picture: Getty Images

"It's one of those trophies in world golf that has such an incredible history," Els said.

"I love playing national Opens and it's been unfortunate that I haven't been able to play for the Australian title more often with dates often clashing in South Africa.

"But this year the planets have lined up and I'm really looking forward to playing in Sydney."

Oosthuizen, who won the British Open in 2010, will play the Australian Open for the first time and will be joined by in-form Englishman Paul Casey, who has won PGA Tour events in each of the last two seasons and is already a winner in Australia, having taken out the ANZ championship in 2003.

"I think if you've watched all of these guys swing a club at some point in their careers, you've probably longed to be able to do it just like one of them," Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt said.

"We're really excited about the field that's being assembled and will announce more big names in coming weeks."