Tight contest likely at PGA Championship
BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2008 Australian PGA Championship | Preview | 03 Dec 2008
Despite the late withdrawal of the second highest world ranked player in the field, Adam Scott, the Cadbury Schweppes Australian PGA Championship promises to be yet another great battle at Hyatt Regency Coolum on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast this week.
Scott’s injury while surfing this week has precluded him from involvement in the tournament although he is expected to be ready to play in next week’s Australian Open at Royal Sydney.
The Hyatt Regency Coolum’s layout has proven to be a birdie fest over the now six years in which the event has been held at the resort with a winning score normally in the late teens or early twenties under par. Playoffs and close finishes have been the norm at the Robert Trent Jones designed layout which is being played for the last time in the current configuration.
In 2009 the tournament will include five new holes being created on the western side of the David Lowe Highway, the area on which the original holes currently lie being snapped up for residential development along some of the more popular beachfront in Queensland.
The tournament has proven a huge success since moving here from Royal Queensland in suburban Brisbane six years ago. The initial involvement of Greg Norman was of great assistance in establishing the event but even without Norman’s presence in recent years the event has gone from strength to strength. It could rightly claim the mantle of Australia’s most successful event since moving here.
Geoff Ogilvy arrives at Coolum as the leading world ranked player in the field at number 14. Ogilvy has played on a limited schedule in recent months having competed in only six events since the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
The Victorian finished 3rd at the recent HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, which was an encouraging performance given his limited time under the gun. In his last visit to Coolum, Ogilvy finished 8th and is happy enough with his game although still a little uncertain about quite what to expect.
Robert Allenby comes off a mentally and emotionally draining week in Melbourne last week given the poor health of his mother Sylvia and his determination to win the Sportsbet Masters for her. It wasn’t to be but now away from the pressure cooker he faced last week and on a golf course where he has won previously he could do well. He has had a fine season in the US and has often played well in Queensland and in this event, winning at Coolum in 2005 and at Royal Queensland in 2000 and 2001.
Peter Lonard’s love affair with this layout and the event generally has been well documented. In what is an outstanding record at Hyatt Regency Coolum he has been three times a winner and once runner up in six appearances. He was not all that impressive last week at Huntingdale, his wayward putter a source of serious concern for him. He had nine three putts during the event there but if he can find a way to improve that at all then he will be a factor this week.
Stuart Appleby is a previous winner at Hyatt Regency Coolum in fact that victory was one of only two wins he has had in his home country. The other was also in Queensland at the 2001 Australian Open. Surprisingly, Appleby missed the cut at Huntingdale last week but there should be much improvement this week. Whether it will be enough for him to contend remains to be seen but his latter events in the US were good enough for him to be a consideration this week.
Mathew Goggin appeals as an interesting contender this week. He has played well at Coolum previously and although he has not played since finishing third in Phoenix a month or so ago, he had several good finishes in the US late in the season.
Nathan Green has done well at Coolum previously and appears to be swinging the club very well. He had one of his worst weeks on the greens in a long time last week in Melbourne but still managed to finish in a share of 4th. If he can find a way to work out an alignment issue on the greens then he stands a very good chance of winning his first event in Australia.
South African Tim Clark is a much better player than his Saturday struggles in Melbourne suggests he is. He played well early in that event and finished the tournament off well also with a final round of 67. Any player capable of finishing runner up at Augusta must be respected in this field.
Rod Pampling finished runner up to Peter Senior at this event in 2003 and while it is difficult to follow up a win with another the following week, he is the sort of player who continues to sneak under the radar and will avoid much of the limelight reserved for others this week. If he backed up with another victory this week it would be of little surprise.
Michael Sim appeared to have his game on track until a last round demise at Huntingdale. There is little doubt that he is playing well however and if he can find a way to put that behind him and take the positives out of the week then he could do well. He produced a great tournament in this event 12 months ago when he shared third behind Lonard and David Smail.
Weather could play its part this week with storms predicted for much of the event. That has been a regular occurrence at Coolum at this time of the year and several of the PGA Championships held here have been interrupted.
Even poor weather is unlikely to impact greatly on an event that he become a must play for Australia’s best golfers and a must visit for golf fans.