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Spieth Faces Scott Challenge in Australian Open

The Triple Crown is a big deal in Australian golf. A trio of tournaments so difficult to win individually, and nigh on impossible to own all at the same time. The first leg is the Australian Open. Hosted this year by the Royal Sydney Golf Club.

Take a look at our preview of the course, the contenders and the odds below:

The Course

Royal Sydney Golf Club – The Championship Course at Royal Sydney is a traditional golf course without tricks or gimmicks. Heavily bunkering and undulating fairways make it a tricky prospect, especially in strong winds. The set-up favours ball strikers, where fairways and greens are the order of the day. The course doesn’t play overly long, as evidenced by past wins from Tim Clark and John Senden, but the greens will make up for the length and provide an appropriate challenge (having in 2003 undergone an extensive rebuilding phase).

The Defending Champion

Last year, Matt Jones snuck into the clubhouse ahead of the fast finishing Adam Scott and heavily backed favourite Jordan Spieth. Spieth was defending his 2014 title and was poised to go back-to-back before a disappointing even-par final round curtailed his chances. Jones will not defend his title, opting to concentrate on his PGA Tour commitments at the RSM Classic. Jones has actually shown some nice form in the States this year – a tie for 15th at the Shriners giving him much needed early FedEx Cup points – so it’s a shame he won’t defend here.

The Contenders*

Jordan Spieth $4 – The winner of the Australian Open in 2014, and along with the man below, one of the overwhelming favourites for this year’s tournament. Despite a minor lull in his output ever since the Masters meltdown, Spieth is still an unbelievably good golfer and one of the best mid-range putters in the game. He’s a certainty to be near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday even though he hasn’t played since the Ryder Cup.

Adam Scott $4.5 – The best ball striker in the business is expected to do well on a course well suited to pure ball strikers. A winner here in 2009, just down the road at the NSW Golf Club and runner-up last year. Scott performed well on the PGA Tour in 2015, putting together a season that featured: two wins, two seconds and a fourth place finish in the FedEx Cup. The odds on a Scott win look very attractive.

John Senden $23 – Sendo’s been grinding for the past few years, but should still be competitive back on home soil. A previous winner of the tournament – Royal Sydney in 2006 – Senden’s strengths include a creative short game and an accurate long game. While on paper that sounds ideal this week, there are question marks over his ability to close out a tournament, given he hasn’t competed in tournaments for some time.

Geoff Ogilvy $26 – The evergreen Ogilvy is possibly the nicest man in golf. Humble, intelligent and spiritual too. Having enjoyed success the world over, including major titles, Ogilvy still has the drive to succeed. Matching that drive is a game that’s holding up to the younger generation too; Ogilvy finished tied for 4th at the recent Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. A former champion, Ogilvy is a good chance this week.

Cameron Smith $26 – The young Australian has made an excellent start to the 2016/17 PGA Tour season. After four events, he’s ranked 37th in the FedEx Cup, with a scoring average of 70.

Curtis Luck $41 – An outsider, but one with real promise. The US Amateur Champion and recent Eisenhower Trophy winner with the Australian team makes his Australian Open debut at Royal Sydney.

Adam Blyth $67 – The Queenslander won the recent NSW Open despite a horrible stumble midway through his round that featured six dropped shots in six holes. If form is an indication as to success in Sydney, Blyth’s an attractive prospect.

*Odds from Bet365

The Winner

There’s a lot of talent in the list above, and we didn’t even get to recent PGA Tour winner Rod Pampling. Picking one is like choosing what to watch on Netflix – far too hard to narrow. However, we like Adam Scott. The course suits him, and he’ll have fond memories of his 62 (achieved in 2014).

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