Perth International provides opportunity

BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2012 The Perth International | Preview | 16 Oct 2012

Charl Schwartzel and Jason Dufner hope that picturesque Perth can inspire them to glory after taking in one of Western Australia’s top tourist attractions ahead of this week’s ISPS Handa Perth International.

The pair made a special visit to Kings Park, one of the largest inner city parks in the world giving spectacular views overlooking Perth City.

Both players are first time visitors to Perth and have been taking in the sights before headlining the field in the $2million tournament at Lake Karrinyup Country Club, which is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia.

On Monday night South African Schwartzel, who holds a helicopter pilot’s licence, also took to the skies as a passenger in a helicopter to get another perspective of the West Australian coast.

“I was fortunate enough yesterday to get a bird’s eye view of how Perth looks,” said the 28 year old. “It’s fantastic. We came right over the golf course. It looked so flat from the air, and then obviously we played today. It’s a lot easier than what it looks from the top.

“But we had so much fun yesterday. It’s my first time to Perth. I’ve played Melbourne and Sydney so it’s nice to finally come to Perth. I’ve heard so many good things about it. I played nine holes on the golf course, and it looks good too.”

The 2011 Masters Tournament champion defeated Rory McIlory and Lee Westwood before losing to Lee Westwood in the semi-final of Turkish Airlines World Golf Final, and he feels he is coming back into form after a difficult season to date so far.

“I built some good confidence last week playing against them (McIlroy and Woods) and I just showed that the game is still there somewhere,” he said. “So I’ve got some good confidence last week and I’m really excited for this week.

“With weeks like last week you can maybe sometimes spark something, and all of a sudden feel like you actually are building some confidence. Something going your way can change things around very quickly.”

Dufner returns to action for the first time since winning three points out of a possible four on his Ryder Cup debut at Medinah Country Club, and he admits he is keen to get playing again after the United States lost to Europe on a dramatic final day.

“It’s been a tough couple weeks since The Ryder Cup for myself, and toughest thing about it is you’ve got to wait two years again until you can play again. That’s a long time for us.

“Personally, if you have a bad event, or if you fall on your face on the last nine holes, you know that you have another event around the corner to kind of redeem yourself. But in that event, you have to wait two more years to have a chance to get back and win the thing.

“So there’s a lot of different dynamics with The Ryder Cup and failing how we did as a team and losing the event. So it’s been a tough couple weeks but I’m looking forward to playing golf again and getting over it and moving past it a little bit.”

Dufner, who plays alongside Australian Greg Chalmers and Italian Edoardo Molinari in the first two rounds, is joined in the field by fellow US PGA Tour winner Bo Van Pelt and the 2011 US PGA Championship runner-up is looking forward to the challenge of taking on some of the leading European Tour players.

“It is a pretty strong field and you have a lot of guys that can play some good golf,” said Dufner. “This is becoming a major event here in Australia and I think it’s good for the Australian Tour and good for The European Tour. It’s a pretty strong field for the first year and anybody can have a great week and play well."

Paul Casey and Edoardo Molinari are two other well credentialed Europeans in the field although neither has played particularly well of late. Casey did finish 3rd in Korea last week but overall he has been well below his best in 2012.

Bo Van Pelt brings further class to the event given his outstanding year in 2012. He was unlucky to miss out on a Ryder Cup spot and given what transpired in Chicago may well have been a better option for Davis Love. Twelve months ago he won in Malaysia and with eight top tens in PGA Tour events in 2012 including at his last two starts he desreves respect.

Molinari has recorded only one top ten in 2012 and is a long way from the player he was when such an intergral part of the European Ryder Cup side in 2010.

These players aside the field is hardly full of European stars, providing the opportunity for many Australians and lesser lights on the European Tour to take advantage of the weaker field to catch a piece of the large purse up for grabs.

The Perth International is jointly sanctioned by the European Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia and as such provides many Australasians the opportunity to play in a European Tour event and for US$2 million.

The leading ranked Australian and the second highest world ranke player in the field is Greg Chalmers who is looking to make it three wins from four starts in Australian events having won the Australian Open and the Australian PGA Championship late in 2011.

Chalmers comes of a very good year in the US where he made it through to the penultimate FedEx Cup Final event. His 9th place finish at the Barclays was his only top ten of the year but he made 20 of 25 cuts.

Brett Rumford is the next highest ranked Australian in the field, the local coming off the back of several good finishes in Europe of late including when runner-up at the Johnnie Walker Championship in Scotland two months ago.

The appearance of Matthew Stieger, Ryan MCarthy and New Zealander Ben Campbell as they embark on professional careers will be of much interest. All three have represented their countries at various levels with Campbell one of New Zealand’s best amateurs over the past five years.

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    About the Author: Bruce Young

    A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of the game comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.


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