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Australian Open moves to avoid cricket clash

The Australian Open golf championship has been moved up by a week this year to avoid clashing with the first Ashes cricket test between Australia and England.

The 102-year-old Australian Open will be held at Royal Sydney from Nov. 16-19. The first cricket test starts in Brisbane on Nov. 23.

"We didn't think it would be a great idea to put it up against the 'Olympics of cricket,"' Golf Australia Chief Executive Tony Hallam said Friday.

The tournament has also expanded its field from 120 to 144 players.

The change in schedule opens a gap in the Australian tournament season that will be filled by the New Zealand Open at Gulf Harbour in Auckland from Nov. 23-26. That event will be co-sanctioned by the European Tour.

The players then fly back across the Tasman Sea for the Australian Masters from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 at Huntingdale, also co-sanctioned in Europe, and then the season-ending Australian PGA Championship at Coolum from Dec. 7-10.

Royal Sydney, a testing 6,940-yard, par-72 layout near the shores of Sydney Harbour, last hosted the Australian Open in 1999, when Aaron Baddeley won as an amateur.

Robert Allenby, defending champion this year after having swept the Australian Open, Australian Masters and Australian PGA in 2005, won the previous staging at Royal Sydney in 1994.

March 10, 2006


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