PONTE VEDRA BEACH -- For an indication of the current state of
Australian golf, look no farther than the leaderboard of The
Steve Elkington is on top in a bid to win the title he captured
from behind in 1991. Craig Parry, the diminutive but muscular
ball of energy, is only three shots back.
And lurking behind with the games to make late runs are 1994
Players champion Greg Norman and Stuart Appleby, who won the
Honda Classic and finished second in the Bay Hill Invitational
in the past two weeks.
Aussie Rules, indeed.
With Norman and Elkington remaining among the most dangerous
players in the world, Parry coming off five consistent years on
the PGA Tour in which he has finished between 43rd and 65th on
the money list and Appleby bursting on the scene with his Honda
triumph, Australians are showing the form that made them among
the formidable international golfers to play in America -- and
the world -- in the early 1990s.
"There aren't quite as many of us playing as well as back
then," said Parry. "I think those were the best years for
Australian golf. It really was quite good, wasn't it? But it
looks like we may be getting back to having that many good
When the 1990s began, the Aussies were seemingly everywhere,
winning championships with muscular drives off the tee, precise
iron play and nerves of steel on the greens. At one point,
during 1991, 13 Australian golfers were among the top 100
players in the world rankings.
During the first three years of this decade, Norman and Ian
Baker-Finch won British Opens, and Wayne Grady won a PGA