20 Jul 2023 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Micheluzzi's star-studded Open prep

by Tony Webeck

David Micheluzzi practice round Open Championship
David Micheluzzi lines up a tee shot during a practice round at Royal Liverpool Golf Club ahead of the 151st Open Championship. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Less than nine months after winning the WA PGA Championship in the red dirt of Kalgoorlie, David Micheluzzi is preparing to play The Open Championship alongside major champions Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson.

If he was struck by the 15,000-kilometre span between Kalgoorlie and Royal Liverpool – or the time it has taken him to cover it – the 26-year-old Victorian did his best not to show it.

In The Open field for the first time by virtue of winning the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit, Micheluzzi has been on a worldwide whirlwind the past three months.

Following the completion of the Australasian season he finished top-25 in a DP World Tour event in Korea and made his PGA TOUR debut at the AT&T Byron Nelson. He received a late invitation to play his first major a week later at the US PGA Championship and then visited the course that Jack Nicklaus built to play The Memorial in Ohio.

In preparation for The Open he has spent the past month in Europe, playing the Betfred British Masters and finishing tied for 17th at the Made in Himmerland tournament before arriving in Liverpool last Monday.

After practice rounds late last week with fellow Aussies and Open debutants Haydn Barron, Travis Smyth and Connor McKinney, Micheluzzi took the opportunity to put his name down beside Rahm for a Tuesday practice round.

Mickelson’s arrival was an extra chicken nugget in a Macca’s six-pack.

A member of the same management company as the world No.3, Micheluzzi admitted to being slightly starstruck when he hit balls next to the Spaniard on the range on Sunday.

“I was hitting balls next to him and I kind of felt the aura. I was like, Oh my god, this is really cool,” Micheluzzi said a day before teeing it up with Rahm.

It was five years ago that countryman Lucas Herbert famously jagged a practice round with Tiger Woods in his Open Championship debut at Carnoustie.

Herbert enters this week a winner on both the PGA TOUR and DP World Tour and the No.56 ranked player in the world, giving Micheluzzi food for thought on the value of that bold move in 2018.

“If you want to do this for a living, you’re going to have to play with them at some point. Diving straight in is a great idea,” he added.

“Look what Lucas is doing right now. This was him five years ago when he made his debut at Carnoustie and look where he is now. He’s one of the top 50 players in the world and playing all the majors.

“There’s probably something in that.”

Drawn to play with 2015 Open champion Zach Johnson and Englishman Matt Wallace for the opening two rounds, Micheluzzi’s path to this point has been partly influenced by two icons of Claret Jug supremacy.

When he began working with short game coach Andrew Cooper, Micheluzzi was exposed to the imaginative ways in which Open legends Seve Ballesteros and Ernie Els manipulated the ball close to the greens.

They are methods he intends to implement this week.

“I’ve watched plenty of videos of Seve hitting crazy shots… even just standard shots. Normal pitch and runs and how he plays them, how he grips it and all that kind of stuff,” Micheluzzi explained.

“It was about using more imagination and using the wedge in different ways. We mainly play with the lob wedge but we can go to sand wedge, gap wedge and just seeing different shots and how it reacts on these surfaces.

“We spent probably three hours on Sunday just going around the chipping green, working out a different grind on the lob wedge.

“It’s fun to work on because I like that part of the game. It makes me want to practice more and more.”

Herbert and Kiwi Ryan Fox will be the first Australasian players to tee off in Round 1 at 3.57pm AEST with defending champion Cameron Smith paired with US Open champion Wyndham Clark and Olympic gold medal winner Xander Schauffele at 6.58pm.

Elsewhere this week Aussies Hannah Green and Su Oh have teamed up at the LPGA Tour Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational and Grant Booth will play the Barracuda Championship on the PGA TOUR for a second time after securing one of four spots at Monday qualifying.

Round 1 tee times AEST The Open Championship Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, England 3.57pm Ryan Fox (NZ), Lucas Herbert, Byeong Hun An 6.03pm Jordan Spieth, Matt Fitzpatrick, Jason Day 6.47pm Scottie Scheffler, Tommy Fleetwood, Adam Scott 6.58pm Cameron Smith, Xander Schauffele, Wyndham Clark 7.42pm Dan Bradbury, Oliver Farr, Haydn Barron 8.47pm Daniel Hillier (NZ), Kyung Nam Kang, Kensei Hirata 9.20pm Brendon Todd, Romain Langasque, Travis Smyth 9.42pm Min Woo Lee, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Harrison Crowe (a) 10.15pm Zach Johnson, Matt Wallace, David Micheluzzi 12.43am Guido Migliozzi, Oliver Wilson, Connor McKinney

Defending champion: Cameron Smith Past Aussie winners: Peter Thomson (1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1965), Kel Nagle (1960), Greg Norman (1986, 1993), Ian Baker-Finch (1991), Cameron Smith (2022) TV times: Live 3.30pm-5am Thursday, Friday; Live 7pm-5am Saturday; Live 6pm-4am Sunday on Fox Sports 505 and Kayo.

PGA TOUR Barracuda Championship Tahoe Mountain Club (Old Greenwood), Truckee, California 11.45pm Martin Trainer, Greg Chalmers, Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez 1.02am Geoff Ogilvy, Kelly Kraft, Freddy Schott 5.55am* Harrison Endycott, Lukas Nemecz, Santiago Tarrio 6.28am Aaron Baddeley, Doc Redman, Ryo Hisatsune 6.50am Troy Merritt, MJ Daffue, Jason Scrivener 7.12am Corey Pereira, Grant Booth, Eddy Lai

Defending champion: Chez Reavie Past Aussie winners: Geoff Ogilvy (2014), Greg Chalmers (2016) TV times: Live 7am-10am Friday, Saturday; Live 8am-10am Sunday; Live 7am-10am Monday on Fox Sports 507 and Kayo.

LPGA Tour Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational Midland Country Club, Midland, Michigan 10.55pm Hannah Green/Su Oh, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Emma Talley 3.51am* Mi Hyang Lee/Jeongeun Lee5, Louise Ridderstrom/Sarah Jane Smith 4.02am Lauren Hartlage/Maddie Szeryk, Sarah Kemp/Alena Sharp

Defending champions: Jennifer Kupcho/Lizette Salas Past Aussie winners: Nil TV times: Live 5am-8am Thursday; Live 2am-5am Friday; Live 3am-6am Saturday; Live 5am-8am Sunday on Fox Sports 506 and Kayo

Korn Ferry Tour Price Cutter Charity Championship Highland Springs Country Club, Springfield, Missouri 10.06pm Paul Barjon, Curtis Luck, Ted Purdy 10.17pm* Rhein Gibson, Martin Flores, Jamie Lovemark 10.39pm* Shad Tuten, Dimi Papadatos, Philip Knowles

Defending champion: David Kocher Past Aussie winners: Anthony Painter (1998), Cameron Percy (2014)

Ladies European Tour La Sella Open La Sella Golf, Spain 8.39pm* Ridhima Dilawari, Kirsten Rudgeley, Natalie Armbruster 12.45am* Kim Metraux, Momoka Kobori (NZ), Emma Grechi

Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil

Challenge Tour Big Green Egg German Challenge Wittelsbacher Golfclub, Neuburg an der Donau, Germany 5.59pm* Hayden Hopewell, Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen, August Thor Host 11.30pm Jordan Zunic, Joel Girrbach, Jeppe Kristian Andersen

Defending champion: Alejandro Del Rey Past Aussie winners: Nil

PGA TOUR CANADA Commissionaires Ottawa Open Eagle Creek Golf Club, Dunrobin, Ontario 10.30pm* Jack Trent, Taylor Kay-Green, Jake Sollon 11pm* Alexander Herrmann, George Markham, Cory Crawford 3am Justin Doeden, Jason Hong, Aymeric Laussot

Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil

Epson Tour Twin Bridges Championship Pinehaven Country Club, Guilderland, New York Australasians in the field: Gabriela Ruffels, Robyn Choi, Amelia Garvey (NZ), Hira Naveed, Cassie Porter

Defending champion: Lucy Li Past Aussie winners: Lindsey Wright (2003), Sarah Jane Smith (2008), Breanna Elliott (2015)

* Starting from 10th tee

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