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Appleby unhappy at appearance payments

Reigning champion Stuart Appleby has lashed out at Australian Open organisers for paying US players to play at the expense of locals.

Appleby, who will defend the title he won at The Grand on the Gold Coast last November when this year’s event is contested at Victoria Golf Club in Melbourne, criticised organisers for spending appearance money on Rich Beem and Kenny Perry.

“Rich Beem is a great guy. Nothing fazes him. He was the perfect out-of-nowhere winner. But at the same time there are a lot of other guys like Peter Lonard, Robert Allenby and Craig Parry,” Appleby told the Herald-Sun.

“This Australian Open has the potential to have the most number of in-form players of any. We don’t honestly need a bunch of other international players. We really don’t. If we keep putting results out like we have over the last few months, who needs them?”

While the Australian Golf Union, which organises the event, baulked at the price world No.1 Tiger Woods demands, the likes of Beem, the US PGA champion, and Perry, who has only one US Tour win in the last seven years, are much more affordable.

And AGU executive director Colin Phillips, speaking at the launch of the tournament in Melbourne on Wednesday, defended the invitations to Beem and Perry as necessary to help boost the profile of the event.

“We’ve got as good a field locally as we’ve ever had. But I still think the field needs some international players to give it that international flavour,” Phillips told reporters at the launch.

And while he was unhappy with some of the names that will contest the Australian Open, Appleby was nothing but full of praise for the venue, which has been gradually altered since it last hosted the tournament in 1981.

“Victoria is one of my favourites, a unique golf course. It’s about time we got back here. As far as I’m concerned it beats the hell out of most of the courses we play in the States. I can’t honestly think of any that are better,” Appleby said.

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