They say that timing is everything in comedy, but no less so in sports administration and Paul McNamee must be acknowledged as the master of his trade.

The former tennis star is well on the way to proving himself in his second sport, when it comes to hitting performance targets instead of fluffy balls.

Having driven the tennis version of the Australian Open to all sorts of records and high status on the international stage, McNamee is now doing the same thing for golf. It’s only more power to him that McNamee had the sense to jump voluntarily from his role as chief ringmaster at Melbourne Park moments before Lleyton Hewitt’s demands for a specific court speed became a little embarrassing and before it became more difficult to find somebody who knows how to hold a racquet than to find a full dam in this country.

Today’s papers announced a very healthy lineup of Australian stars would be contesting next month’s golfing Open. Robert Allenby, who pretty much swept last summer’s events, US Open winner Geoff Ogilvy, American tour stars Stuart Appleby, Adam Scott, Aaron Baddeley, John Senden and Rod Pampling … even charismatic veteran Greg Norman, who can still draw a crowd.

It says something about the strength of our local golfing stocks that the Open’s usual token “international” players (in this case, four-time US PGA winner Jim Estes and rising star Sean O’Hair) are now a subhead, rather than the headline.

The last I heard, McNamee wasn’t instructing any of these players on their swing, so he can’t claim too much credit for the stellar results Australians have enjoyed of late. But sports administrators and officials are quick to be kicked if anything goes wrong, so who could begrudge this half of the Supermacs his moment in the sun for assembling such a great field?

Peter Fray

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