Aussie big guns out to end Open drought

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Blame it on Ash Barty. Or on the recent spate of other Australian sporting success stories. Or on Cameron Smith convincing himself that being born exactly a month after Greg Norman last won the British Open could be some sort of omen.

For the fact is that Australia's top golfers, all gathered here at Royal St George's, have a sense there's something special in the Sandwich sea air.

They fancy this might just be the moment that 28 years of Open hurt are ended and that one of them ends up holding the Claret Jug aloft.

The 'fab four' of Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Smith may still be the most likely quartet to end the drought when the 149th Open tees off on Thursday, yet they say they'd be happy if any one of the 11 in-form Aussies in the field could deliver.

Back in 1993, of course, it was Norman the shark who tore the field asunder with a dazzling final-round 64 in a tournament that the late, great Gene Sarazen reckoned was the best he'd ever seen.

And though on four occasions since, an Aussie has finished runner-up - including Scott and Leishman - no-one's been able to take that final step.

"It is a long time, I didn't realise it was that long," Leishman told AAP. "Obviously, we've had some close calls with Scotty at Lytham (2012) and me at St Andrews (2015).

"It's hard to win - a lot of things have got to go right for you - but, hopefully, we can change things this week."

Could this be Australia's week? "I certainly hope so," reckoned Smith, the country's current No.1. "I always think, 'if it's not me, I want it to be one of the other Aussie boys'. We all get along so well, all behind each other."

Elder statesman Scott has been left enthusing about the breakthroughs of Irish Open winner, 25-year-old Lucas Herbert, and 22-year-old Scottish Open champ Min Woo Lee, as a potential third successive weekend of Australian success looms in the British Isles.

He remembers how five-time winner Peter Thomson a couple of times walked the course with him when he was a youngster on an Open practice round and was quite "brutal" in his assessment.

Well, Scott says he's happy to offer any advice today's young tyros might want, but nice guy that he is it would doubtless be more gentle if just as invaluable as Thomson's.

But it's not just golf.

"Hope this sport success is going to continue after Ash (Barty winning Wimbledon), and that some of the goodness has come over from France too, what with Ben O'Connor winning a stage of the Tour de France," said Leishman.

"It's funny. At the start of last year as well, Cam (Smith) won the Sony, and I won a couple of weeks later at Torrey Pines and then Scotty wins a week after at Riviera. I'm hoping we're still in a phase like that.

"I'd love myself to win it - but any of the Aussie boys would be good."

Scott's return to Sandwich has conjured "strong images" of when he was a lad back home desperately trying to stay awake in the early hours so he could revel in Norman's historic win on TV.

"It was quite inspiring, the perfect victory and timing for me, wanting to just be out there doing what Greg did."

Smith, though, has only been brought up on the folklore of that event. Norman won on July 18, 1993; he was born on August 18, 1993! "That's a pretty good omen, I think," smiled the mullet man.

Like Barty had said the previous weekend, it feels like the stars may have all aligned.

"I'm not really stacking the pressure on myself this week," shrugged Scott. "But it would be a lovely story for an Aussie to follow in Greg's footsteps here."

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