The European tour enters an exciting new era this week as they launch a new format in Australia whilst the PGA in America remains in California for the Genesis Open.
Down under the European Tour believes a new era is dawning with the revolutionary ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth.
The Lake Karrinyup Country Club hosts the event which will have a regular 54-hole cut on Friday evening, a further cut will fall on Saturday night, when the top 24 players earn their path into the Sunday match play stages.
With the top eight after the third day of stroke play earning a bye through the first knock-out stage, a full day of six-hole match play shoot-outs will ensue – with any tied matches after the six holes of regulation play decided on a purpose-built 90-yard play-off hole – before a winner is declared.
Although this is a brand new event, Louis Oosthuizen is the actual defending champion, whilst world number 11 Alex Noren is the highest ranking playing taking part.
The PGA rolls into the beautiful Riviera County Club in Pacific Palisades with Bubba Watson the defending champion.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 14, 2017
With world number one Jason Day, the world’s hottest golfer Hideki Matsuyama and last week’s winner Jordan Spieth in attendance, this is the strongest field 2017 has seen thus far.
The Genesis Open – formerly the Los Angeles Open – was founded 91 years ago and regularly attracts fantastic fields.
Watson is the defending champion, and indeed has one two out of the last three – but a host of players enjoy this track including Dustin Johnson – who has twice been runner-up.
European interest is also strong in California this week with Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, and Paul Casey in the field.
The pro’s point of view…
Our resident golf expert is Cliff Jackson. Cliff is a leading youth coach and PGA professional at the famed Seaton Carew Links – one of the oldest courses in the world.
In America I have to stick with DJ – Johnson likes this place and Jordan Spieth. He was so good last week, hard to see him not being in the mix again this week. And Bubba Watson – we have not really seen him this year but as defending champion this will always have been a target.
In Perth – I think the two big names Alex Noren and Louis Oosthuizen will be in contention for sure. I am also going for young Englishman Jordan Smith to have a good week, he is a fine player.
The Bookie says…
We caught up with Ladbrokes’ senior golf trader Peter D’Arcy ahead of the weekend’s action to gauge the markets and ask him about our fancies.
The new format in Perth doesn’t appear to have grasped the punters’ imagination. That could possibly be due to the unpredictability of match play.
Louis Oosthuizen – who is de-facto defending champion – should definitely finish in the top 24 in a field of this strength, but the four match play matches he’ll have to win (assuming a top 8 finish in the stroke play) will be quite tight over just the 6 holes and could be his downfall.
Of the local lads, the format could benefit consistent players so Marcus Fraser’s current form and solid course form could see him leading the charge for the Aussies.
In America, Jordan Spieth is joint favourite with Dustin Johnson whose course form is fantastic at Riviera without managing that elusive win. The only surprise after Spieth’s win at Pebble Beach last week was that he stayed in 6th place in the world rankings.
Bubba has two wins in three years and shows that he clearly loves the course his form at the start of the year suggests he could struggle to make it a hat-trick.
Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama will be contending, but I can’t see them beating Johnson or Spieth here.
My dark horse – I think Californian Brendan Steele has got the game to do well at Riviera and is worth a punt.