Australian PGA - perhaps best ever field

The Australian PGA Championship will again be played at the host venue for the past nine years, the Hyatt Regency Coolum on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, but in 2011 there is little doubt that the field assembled represents the best in the event's history at Coolum and arguably the best ever.

The leading six Australian ranked players are in the field, the only two of our players ranked inside the world top 100 missing this week being Brendan Jones and Richard Green who are representing Australia at the World Cup of Golf in China.

Also in the field and adding significant colour and depth are the 2011 Open Champion, Darren Clarke, the world number 18 and winner at Torrey Pines this year, Bubba Watson, the brilliant young American Rickie Fowler who won in Korea recently and finished runner-up at the Bridgestone WGC event at Firestone in August and the young man who turned a lot of heads last week in Melbourne Kim Kyung tae.

Australian golfing icon Greg Norman will also tee it up and although he is unlikely to be competitive he showed us all when making the cut at the Australian Open that class goes a long way even on a limited or almost no preparation.

Kim was a late inclusion in the event but it is clear he is already on his way to the elite of the game. Most of his success has come in Japan and Asia but he played well in one or two PGA Tour events in 2011 and appears to be a great prospect.

Throw in the likes of recent Australian Open winner, Greg Chalmers the former two time winner on this golf course, Nick O'Hern, and the defending champion Peter Senior and there is every reason to believe this championship will be as hard fought as ever.

The chances do not stop there however with the likes of Matthew Goggin, a previous runner-up in this event and who has come off a great season on the Nationwide Tour and a host of others more than capable of contending and potentially winning one of Australian golf's flagship events.

The revised Hyatt Regency Coolum layout is being used for the third time having been rerouted to accommodate the use of some of the original land for residential development. The jury is still out on the relative merits of the new holes verses the old but as the holes begin to establish themselves they are becoming more and more accepted.

The defending and two time champion at this venue is of course Peter Senior who defeated an in form Geoff Ogilvy to win this event in a delayed completion to the tournament last year. Senior won a playoff against Ogilvy who had won the Australian Open Championship the previous week.

Other recent winners include Robert Allenby, Geoff Ogilvy, Peter Lonard and Nick O'Hern, although Lonard is still in the US after missing out on PGA Tour qualifying.

Ogilvy and O'Hern appear the most likely out of those players given their good recent form and obvious liking for the Hyatt Regency Coolum layout although Peter Senior and Hyatt Regency Coolum seem to get along just fine.

Given his solid week at the Austalian Open and his regular good finishes at the venue then I would not be at all surprised if O'Hern makes it three victories at the Hyatt Regency Coolum this week.

John Senden is another who plays well at the Hyatt and following his good season in the US and his runner-up finish at the Australian Open then he is a good chance.

The field is set and the course is again in its normal perfect condition but the one concern facing tournament organisers this week is the prospect of rain throughout the week. The forecast is for showers on most days but the threatening thunderstorms are not forecast until Monday so hopefully the tournament will not be disrupted as it has on occasions in the past.

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