Open champion Ian Baker-Finch is adamant that Australia's smallest contingent in almost half a century at the UK major is no cause for concern.
Just six Australians are contesting The Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland this week, the fewest since only five teed up at the 1970 edition.
Big guns Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith were eligible via the world rankings while youngsters Jake McLeod and Dimi Papadatos gained entry through top-three results at last year's Australian Open.
From a peak of 23 challengers in 2006, Australia's numbers at The Open have steadily declined.
But Baker-Finch, who hoisted the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale in 1991, dismissed any suggestions Australia's ability to produce major-worthy golfers was dwindling.
Instead, the 58-year-old Queenslander believes the overhaul in The Open's qualifying format is the reason for the shortfall.
In 2014, organiser the Royal and Ancient Golf Club created the Open Qualifying Series – tournaments around the world given varying numbers of Open spots.
The Australian Open is the first leg in the series.
"I'm amazed we only have six at Portrush when our quality of golfers are so high, but the qualifying system has changed everything," renowned US golf commentator Finch told AAP.
The series replaced international final qualifying, a 36-hole event which saw four Open spots given to the Australian site each year.
RIGHT: Baker-Finch likes Scott’s chances at Royal Portrush. PHOTO: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.
This year, the Open Qualifying Series featured 16 tournaments across seven Tours in 11 countries, offering a total of 46 spots.
"In the days of 36-hole qualifying, there were more opportunities to get into The Open," Baker-Finch said.
"With the Open Qualifying Series, you have to finish high in big tournaments on big Tours, so the British Open field is stronger now."
Of the six Australians, Baker-Finch most fancies former World No.1 Scott to lift the Claret Jug, given his pedigree at The Open and recent form in golf's biggest events.
Scott held at least a share of the back-nine lead in the final rounds of the 2012, 2013 and 2015 Opens – without tasting victory.
He has also been in the thick of contention in golf's past five majors, earning top 10 results at the recent US Open and US PGA Championship.
"Adam has the length to navigate the seven or eight toughest holes at Portrush, which is a big advantage," Baker-Finch said.
"We know he's an amazing ball striker but he also has a great imagination and no course requires that more than Portrush.
"With The Open it's not all about the putting and, although Adam's putting has really improved, it certainly helps his chances."
- Evin Priest, Australian Associated Press