Australian PGA attracts top field to Coolum
BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2007 Australian PGA Championship | Preview | 05 Dec 2007
The Cadbury Schweppes Australian PGA Championship is played for the sixth consecutive year at the Hyatt Regency Coolum this week, defying the belief of many that the regional venue would be unable to provide the catalyst for the growth the event has enjoyed since moving from Royal Queensland.
There is little doubt, however, that the growth of the tournament has been, to a large extent, because of its new location rather than being away from a population base. The idyllic setting of the Hyatt Regency Coolum on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast has lured most of Australia’s leading players in recent years as they look to wind down from their respective year long seasons on various golf tours around the world.
While this year the event is the penultimate rather than the final event of 2007 for most, it has still attracted the strongest field in an Australian event in recent years with three players from the world’s top 12 in attendance namely, Adam Scott (6) Rory Sabbatini (11) and Geoff Ogilvy (12). Also in the field is the MasterCard Masters winner, Aaron Baddeley, who is currently standing at number 18 in the world.
The strength of the field and the event is given further significance by the fact that so many of Australia’s other leading players are lining up this week with only Robert Allenby and Rod Pampling not at Coolum.
Allenby’s decision is a confusing one as he is a three time winner of the event although the Jupiter based Victorian maintains the decision was based purely on the need to balance his limited time back in Australia with both golf and family commitments. Pampling on the other hand is in the USA defending the‘silly season’ Merrill Lynch title he won with Jerry Kelly last year.
Irrespective of Allenby and Pampling’s appearance or otherwise, the event promises to be another fine example of the even spread of talent amongst Australia’s leading players and with the controversial but extremely talented Sabbatini added into the mix, the ingredients are in place for an outstanding week.
Not that the possibilities are limited to those mentioned above, as the USPGA Tour’s outstanding rookie in 2007 Brandt Snedeker is in the field and as a winner of the Wyndham Championship and nearly US$3 million in his first season he deserves respect. Adding to Snedeker’s appeal as a likely contender is that he played well in Japan in recent weeks, indicating his ability to play well away from America and that his very good form has continued late into the year.
Ryan Moore has shown in 2007 that he is approaching the form that made him the game’s leading amateur prior to turning professional in 2005. Only just 25, his runner up finish to K.J. Choi at this season’s Memorial Tournament was the highlight of the year for him but clearly he is destined for a great professional career and if that is the case then winning this event is not beyond him.
Stuart Appleby was brilliant in his last round at the MasterCard Masters before a last hole double bogey brought him undone but he has won at Hyatt Regency Coolum previously albeit in a lesser event and has the credentials to win his third Australasian Tour event this week.
Nick O’Hern is the defending champion having beaten Peter Lonard in a playoff last year and although the West Australian has not had the best of years by his recent standards, he is a player good enough to do well at Coolum as he has done regularly in the past.
Peter Lonard surprised most including himself with a very good 5th place at the recent MasterCard Masters in what was his first event for more than two months and given his liking for the Hyatt Regency Coolum layout then he might so even better this week. In 2002 he shared honours in the event when the playoff between he and Jarrod Moseley was called off due to darkness and then won the event in 2004 before finishing runner up to O’Hern last year.
The other chances are too numerous to mention in this rundown but suffice to say this year’s event promises to be one of the most closely fought in the recent history of the event.
The event is contracted to 2009 when changes to the golf course may or may not affect the ongoing role the Resort has played in the elevation in status of the tournament. The golf holes across the road on the more valuable seaside land are being replaced with another nine holes amongst the forested area in the west of the property.
Things are well poised for one of the most enjoyable weeks on the Australasian Tour and there is little reason to believe that the significant crowds again expected at Coolum will not be disappointed.