Micheluzzi eyes Open

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Open debutant David Micheluzzi believes he can be a contender at the British Open at Hoylake. Picture: DEAN LEWIS, AAP

By Ian Chadband, Aap

Members of the Cranbourne Golf Club are in for sleepless nights this weekend as one of their own makes his British Open debut at the magnificent Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake.

Cranbourne member David Micheluzzi will tee it up alongside 2015 Open Champion Zach Johnson and Englishman Matt Wallace in the world’s oldest and most sought-after championship.

The 26-year-old first joined Cranbourne at the age of six, in 2003, and has been a familiar figure at the club ever since.

He was part of the club’s junior program for 10 years, before his talent was recognised and he began training with the Victorian Institute of Sport.

Even through his involvement in the elite junior program, Micheluzzi was a proud Cranbourne member who represented the club in pennant and is a four-time club champion.

Micheluzzi was the star of the Australian golfing summer and, as the rain drummed down on his umbrella at Hoylake, the Melburnian outlined his dream of showing exactly why with a British Open debut to remember.

Micheluzzi, a diminutive late bloomer who suddenly flowered over the summer to win three tournaments and end up order of merit champion for the PGA Tour of Australasia, admits his spectacular summer has made him reassess how far he can go in the international game.

And as it’s offered him “dream-come-true“ chances to play in his first two majors at the US PGA at Oak Hill and now at Royal Liverpool, a 500-1 outsider with British bookmakers, is adamant that he’s not at Hoylake to make up the numbers.

“I want to compete, I want to try and get myself up there in contention – I feel I can,“ said Micheluzzi on Tuesday as he outlined how his preparation at the celebrated links course in north-west England had been probably as thorough as any player’s.

“I’ve played the PGA, I feel I know what to expect in a major now, but I’m just going to treat it like a normal week,“ he said.

“I found out so late about competing in the PGA – six days before we teed up I got a special invite – but this week I know what to expect after such a thorough preparation and the way I’m hitting it, and the way I’m going about everything, I feel like I can compete.“

He’s been practising for the past week on the course in the teeth of the recent wet, windy weather and is awed by the challenge it presents.

“It’s awesome … what a golf course, there’s no better,“ he said.

“It’s one of a kind, the greatest and best championship in the world – and I get to play in one of them, so I’m stoked and happy to be there.

“It’s a dream come true – because a year ago, I didn’t think I’d be in this position, but I had a really good year in Oz and here I am!

“I had three wins and two seconds, and only five events outside the top 10, playing really good golf that hopefully I’ll continue my whole career.

“And now, hopefully, I can do what we did in Oz over here.“

It was only Micheluzzi’s second full year on the Australasian tour and he’s improved so dramatically that he’s planning a full-blown assault on the European tour next season having gained his card.

“It’s quite bizarre how my life changed, even in just three months.

“If you’d said I’d be playing in Open and PGA and European events, I’d be laughing at you.“

But he’s seen himself as a bit of late golf developer.

“I feel like I’ve taken my time a little bit compared to someone like Min Woo Lee.

“I’m in mid-20s and it could take me a little bit of time on the DP (European) tour but I’ll just roll with the punches and see where it goes.“

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