Australia's leading golfer Adam Scott can challenge for the world No 1 ranking in years to come, former major winner Greg Norman claimed yesterday.
Norman said he admired Scott for the way he recovered from his British Open meltdown last year, where he bogeyed the final four holes to lose by a stroke to South African Ernie Els.
Currently ranked sixth in the world, Scott is a long way behind Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy in the rankings points but is within striking distance of Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Louis Oosthuizen, with former No 1 Tiger Woods still enjoying a buffer in second.
Undeniably one of Australia's best ever, the two-time major winner is himself remembered for his famous final round fade - where he shot a 78 on the final round of the 1996 US Masters to hand the title to Nick Faldo - despite leading by as much as six strokes.
Norman said Scott would take strength from the loss heading into a new year.
"I would love to have seen him win the British Open, but sometimes you've got to take a little pain to get success," he said.
"But I'm sure he will perform well this year, I think he's the best driver of the golf ball in the world today.
"He's extremely long and very straight, he's just got to marry everything up over four days of a championship.
"At the British Open he did it for 68 holes, he's just got to do it for 72 holes."
The next generation of Australian talent includes Jake Higginbottom, who has competed at the NSW PGA in Wollongong as an amateur and recently turned professional after winning the NZ Open last year.
Aussie Marc Leishman won on the US PGA Tour last year and is one of a strong Australian field of more than a dozen players currently on the lucrative circuit.
Norman said the quality of international talent attracted to play the Australian Open, Masters and PGA would only continue to improve once more corporate funding flowed into the game as the world economy improved.
"I just see things getting better and better," he said.