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My Australia

There are things in Sydney that you can't find anywhere else. I always tell people who are visiting Australia to spend at least four days in the city—and even that isn't nearly enough time.

In addition to playing some of Sydney's great golf courses, I love to experience as many restaurants as I can. Two of my favorite dining spots in Sydney—indeed, two of my favorites anywhere in the world—are Beppi's and Doyle's on the Beach in Watsons Bay.

I first went to Sydney in 1974, to serve an apprenticeship for the New South Wales section of the Australian PGA as an assistant professional. I also met Jack Nicklaus there in 1976, and, many years later, played golf with Bill Clinton on one of the greatest oceanfront courses in the world: the New South Wales Golf Club. The Australian office of my company, Great White Shark Enterprises, is also located in Sydney.

Nothing made me prouder than to be involved with the 2000 Olympic Games, which Australia hosted. I had the distinct privilege of carrying the Olympic torch across the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the morning of the opening ceremonies. It was a moment in time that has been indelibly etched in my mind.

The crowd for that ceremony blew me away, particularly since the event took place very early in the morning. There were so many people, and they were so excited, that I never really got to run with the torch—it was more like a torch crush. The Olympics were such a big event for all Aussies—it was the Australian Olympics, not just the Sydney Olympics. More than 100,000 international visitors descended on the country, and the true Australia was exposed to the entire world. It was a critically important two-week stretch that ultimately proved very successful in promoting and fostering tourism, which represents more than 10 percent of Australia's gross domestic product.

I don't really have any regrets about how my life has turned out, but I am disappointed that I had to leave my home country to pursue the path I wanted to take. It is an unfortunate reality about the game of golf: The best competition in the world is in the United States, and if you want to be the best and play against the best, it's necessary to pack up and travel here.

I have a trip planned to Australia at the end of this year, and it will be the first time in three decades that I'll be going down there just to be an Australian. Sure, I'll play a little golf and tend to some business, but the itinerary definitely won't be packed the way it usually is. And let me tell you—I can't wait.


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