Scott backs cut-throat Australian Open

Golf talisman Adam Scott is embracing the world-first mixed-gender Australian Open, even if he's no big fan of the Saturday cut being introduced in Melbourne.

ADAM SCOTT of Australia.
ADAM SCOTT of Australia. Picture: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Adam Scott knows playing catch-up won't do it as golf enters a brave new world on Thursday with the historic first mixed-gender Australian Open in Melbourne.

With men and women sharing the fairways at a national championship for the first time anywhere on the globe, compelled officials have introduced a double cut, leaving only the top 30 players and ties in each event to joust for the trophies down the stretch on Sunday.

The ultimate purist, Scott accepts the cut-throat innovation as a "necessity" as the former world No.1 strives to etch his name on the Stonehaven Cup once more.

"It's a little different and that's the hardest thing to get your head around, that you could be sitting not that far away and not have a chance to play Sunday," the 2009 champion said on tournament eve.

"That's a tough one to swallow, but that's the format this week so play good the first three days."

Marc Leishman, who famously shot weekend rounds of 64-66 to force his way into the 2015 British Open play-off at St Andrews after barely making the halfway cut, would also prefer a little more leeway.

But the six-time PGA Tour winner turned LIV Golf defector is all for reducing the fields on Friday and again on Saturday if the move takes the game forward.

"Probably 99 per cent of the time you are in the top 30 if you're going to win a golf tournament anyway," Leishman said.

"Obviously we would probably prefer it if there wasn't that cut, but also having 120 players on the golf course on Sunday is probably not the greatest thing for the tournament either.

"I just hope it goes off really well because I think it's a great concept - great for families.

"If you've got a boy and girl, come out and they can see both men and women playing. That's a good thing for golf."

Minjee and Min Woo Lee, the sport's greatest sister-brother act, hope the dual-gender format proves the way of the future amid a push for a mixed teams' event at the Olympic Games.

"It would be nice to have a partner that hits every fairway and every green so I can just lash at it," Min Woo said, sitting in awe next to his sister, the world No.4 and reigning US Open champion.

"Whenever it comes, I'll be excited for it. That would be amazing to play with each other. We don't really get to do that, only in tournaments like this and the Vic Open.

"So hopefully the bigger tours or this tour just keeps doing it and we can keep playing as a family."

In two quality fields, the Lees, Leishman, 2019 Women's US PGA Championship winner Hannah Green and men's title favourite Cameron Smith are all chasing a maiden Australian Open trophy.

The legendary Karrie Webb, Australia's most prolific major winner, is hunting a sixth, while Scott, at 42, remains as hungry as ever for a second in the first Open since pre-pandemic three years ago.

"I've had a great record generally at the Open. I just haven't gotten across the line for a second time," Scott said.

"It's great to be back playing for our national championship. I generally feel good about where my game is."

But whether he wins or not, Scott hopes tour bosses around the world are tuning in as Australia breaks with more than a century of tradition in staging a simultaneous men's and women's Open at the Victoria and Kingston Heath sandbelt clubs.

"Australia is pushing the boundaries of what's possible this week. I hope the rest of the world pays attention," he said.

"Certainly at this time in the golfing world eyes have been opened to different formats.

"Hopefully we've all got our eyes open this week to see the best in this one. I'm here to embrace it and hopefully it is a win win."