THE PGA Tour of Australasia this week joins forces with the European and Asian Tours for the inaugural staging of the ISPS Handa World Super 6 at the Lake Karrinyup Country Club in Perth’s northern suburbs.
This relatively novel and innovative concept is clearly designed to create a point of difference and although a similar concept was tried by the PGA Tour of Australasia in 2011, this week’s event will be watched with interest by various professional tours around the world.
After two days of strokeplay qualifying, the leading 65 players and ties qualify for the third round which is typical of most tournament structures. However, it is from that point on things begin to change.
Those players who have made the initial cut on Friday evening are all playing for a place in the final 24 who advance to a knock out match play contest on Sunday.
The leading eight players at the completion of 54 holes earn the right to sit out the opening round on Sunday with the winner of those first round matches advancing to face them in round two in what effectively becomes the round of 16.
Each match is played over six holes with a specially constructed playoff hole to decide tied contests.
It is perhaps disappointing that this week’s event has, with one or two exceptions, not received a lot of support from Europe’s ‘star’ players although in most cases that requires the sort of money that would blow the budget of this event just to get them to Perth.
WORLD SUPER 6 CELEBRITY CHALLENGE:
Dependent on the success of the event this year, and its future scheduling, the tournament is likely to attract more of the game's leading players in the years ahead.
The event had attracted world number 10, Patrick Reed, until he was forced to withdraw on doctor’s advice against travelling such a distance with a respiratory ailment.
Leading players in this week’s field, however, include world number 11 Alex Noren who was one of the biggest movers in world golf in 2016 with four European Tour victories, catapulting him from 95th at the start of the year to inside the top 10 following his victory at the Nedbank Challenge.
Noren has not played at Lake Karrinyup previously but has continued to play well enough in the Middle East of late to be a real chance to contend and possibly win on debut at this outstanding layout.
Louis Oosthuizen is the event’s second highest world ranked player and having won at Lake Karrinyup last year at the Perth International, and coming off the back of a third place finish in Phoenix two weeks ago, he appears to be a great chance.
Thorbjorn Olesen is another who has won at Lake Karrinyup, the Dane successful at the Perth International in 2014, and as the third highest ranked player in the field his credentials are significant.
He was a member of the Danish World Cup winning side in November and late last year also won the lucrative Turkish Airlines Open in Turkey.
Peter Uihlein has played Lake Karrinyup on two occasions and has been inside the top 10 both times.
Having finished 5th at the recent event in Dubai and 7th at the SA Open then his form is good enough to compete against a weaker field here.
Australia’s highest world ranked player in the field is Sam Brazel who is now one place ahead of Marcus Fraser in those rankings.
Both are in this week’s field and offer some hope for a local victory. The volatile nature of the event, where six hole matches are used to determine those advancing through the match play phase, opens up the possibility for a lot of Australasians to win this week.
Brazel finished an impressive 12th last week in Malaysia, continuing a recent dramatic leap in world golf highlighted by his win in Hong Kong.
Fraser has regularly performed well at this venue and although he missed the cut last week when defending in Malaysia is perhaps playing a little better than that result would suggest.
New Zealander Ryan Fox has been a big improver in world golf in the past twelve months and now has his European Tour card.
Fox has made eleven of his last twelve cuts and includes a 4th place finish behind Jordan Spieth at the Australian Open amongst those finishes.
Fox’s aggressive style of play might just suit this format if he can make it to the leading 24 by Saturday night.
Michael Hendry is another New Zealander who had a great season on the Japan Tour last year and has finished 4th in a Perth International at Lake Karrinyup.
Two of Australia’s most promising young players, Curtis Luck and Brett Coletta, get their chance, Luck returning from a missed cut in Malaysia but two good efforts in the Middle East prior and Coletta having played his PGA Tour debut last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach event where he missed the cut.
VIC OPEN FINAL ROUND REVIEW: