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Fiji International provides great opportunity for Australasian hopefuls

Snedeker fresh from a Ryder Cup win heads the field (Photo: Bruce Young)
The PGA Tour of Australasia joins forces with the European Tour in of all places Fiji this week when the second staging of the Fiji International is played at Natadola Bay in Fiji although one look at the home page of the European Tour's website hardly identifies the event as having any involvement with the European Tour.

The $A1.5 million Fiji International is up against the US$5 million and faces a tough contest to attract profile this week but for those who are in the field, mainly Australasian Tour players, the week provides an opportunity to not only play for a healthy purse but for the chance to gain access to the European Tour with a victory.

Brandt Snedeker is very much the marquee player in the field, the successful Ryder Cupper the only player from the world top 100 teeing it up this week.  Snedeker won earlier this season at Torrey Pines and is a seven time PGA Tour winner.

His last experience on the Australasian Tour was not a good one, missing the cut at the Australian PGA Championship last December but he is a class player at best and will be the player to beat in so many respects.

Vijay Singh finished third in this event last year and is a player, even now well into his fifties, good enough to have finished runner-up at the Quicken Loans event on the PGA Tour in July.

Michael Hendry is having a great season on the Japan Tour in 2016 having been twice runner-up there this season and is currently 6th on the money list. Hendry finished 3rd at the NZ Open earlier this year and is currently 4th on the Australasian Tour money list so a win or a good finish would assist his cause in that regard.

Matthew Griffin won the New Zealand Open in March and currently leads the Australasian Tour money list after one or two other good finishes prior to the win in Queenstown but his form in Japan this year, especially given his great start to the year, has been a little disappointing.

South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli finished runner-up after a playoff at last year’s Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast and as a result of a very good season on the Challenge Tour in Europe this year is certain of gaining European status but it could come earlier than that with a win here.

Frittelli has won, been once runner-up and twice 3rd on the Challenge Tour this year and he appears a good chance against this field to continue his season.  

West Australian Michael Sim is a class player who has won four times on the Web.Com Tour and is on the comeback trail after a series of injuries curtailed his very promising career. He has yet to win on the Australasian Tour but he is a player good enough to do so and as if the case for so many others this week provides a great opportunity or the former PGA Tour player.

Several of the Australasian Tour's most prolific winners are in the field namely Peter Lonard, Robert Allenby and Peter O'Malley and while they are well below their previous best their class could take them a long way this week.

This week's event might end up with a young and relatively inexperienced Australian with a European Tour card and that alone will be a great result for the event's involvement with the European Tour          

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