Tournament number two in Australia’s prestigious Triple Crown is upon us this week and hosted on the Gold Coast again for the fourth straight year.
Let’s take a look at the course, the contenders and the odds for the Australian PGA Championship starting Thursday:
RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast is home to tight fairways, undulating greens and immaculately manicured swales. 27 holes mean the course can be played in three different ways, with all of them having its own distinctive challenges. It will play longish at 6,690 metres, with six par 4s that measure more than 400 metres, four par 5s that are over 500 metres long, and a 201-metre par 3. And will be covered in bunkers (which won’t be new to those that played on the Melbourne sandbelt).
Nathan Holman defied the odds to win last year. In doing so, he secured a European Tour card but really struggled to find his footing in the competitive tour. His recent form doesn’t bode that well for a successful defence. In fact, he withdrew from the recent Nedbank Golf Challenge with a bad back. Holman’s at $51 to go back to back.
Adam Scott $4.50 – The World number 7 is the obvious drawcard for the second premier event of the Australian season, and the clear favourite with the bookies to take out the lion’s share of the $1.5 million purse. Scott’s in okay form; he described himself as “just average” recently. A T14th at the Australian Open was followed up with some decent golf with Marc Leishman in the World Cup of Gold teams format tournament.
Ian Poulter $34 – The Englishman is probably better known for his Twitter exploits than his golf game these days, but could still surprise in a relatively lean field. Once the European’s team clutch man on the greens during Ryder Cups, Poulter has been without a win since 2012.
Marc Leishman $15 – The other half of Australia’s World Cup team, Leishman hits the ball long and could really light up the Royal Ones lay out if at his best. However, he’s probably not near it at the moment and probably has one eye on a break. The PGA will be his last tournament before a long break.
Cameron Smith $15 – The young Australian lost the Australian Open in a playoff to Jordan Spieth. He rocketed into contention with a final round 66. At the same time illustrating the type of form that’s seen him compete regularly in the States in 2016. He’ll contend again here this week and looks at nice odds.
Harold Varner III $34 – Varner’s a little powerhouse. Relatively small but hits it a mile. The Ohio-born 26-year-old hasn’t enjoyed the best of starts in 2016/17 but enjoyed three top tens last season on the PGA Tour. One thing is a certainty, though; he’ll thrive with the boisterous Aussie crowds.
Danny Lee $23 – New Zealand’s number one golfer is making his Australian PGA Championship debut this week. The PGA Tour winner and current world number 58 is backing up after combining with Ryan Fox to finish T11 in the IPSA Hands World Cup of Golf last week. He looks a good prospect because of a previous win in Australia in the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic, achieved as an amateur.
Ryan Fox $23 – The Kiwi’s built more like a rugby player than a golfer – it’s likely due to his genes (his dad Grant played for the All Blacks for a long time). But, he’s still got an incredible touch around the greens and could really challenge here after a good few weeks in Australia. He’ll be better for his experience in the final groups challenging for the Stonehaven and by being surrounded by the quality golfers at the World Cup.
*Odds from Sportsbet.
Although I labelled the group above, “contenders” I don’t actually think many of them will challenge for the title. Some of them are just famous names in the field, who are likely to struggle. I like Lee and Smith.
Bet on Henrik Stenson to become the BMW PGA Championship Winner.
Back Australia to take the Ashes home with them.
Back Rafael Nadal to become the Mens French Open Winner.
Back One For Arthur to win the Grand National.
Back Mexico to win the Confederations Cup.