Scott, Leishman favourites at Australian PGA
The Australian PGA Championship starts tomorrow at Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast with a strong Australian line up as well as some international stars who will compete for the Joe Kirkwood Cup.
Newly-crowned Greg Norman Medal winner, Marc Leishman and Adam Scott will feature for the first time this season on home soil and reigning Masters Champion, Sergio Garcia makes his first appearance down under since the 2010 Australian Masters at Victoria Golf Club.
Marc Leishman (Credit: PGA Australia)
Co-sanctioned on the European Tour, the event carries a modest AUD$1.5million in total prize money, yet offers an important opportunity for emerging Australian professionals to play their way onto a main tour.
The field is arguably stronger than last week’s Australian Open, which managed to attract just two of the world’s top-50 ranked players, and for many the tournament presents the last opportunity to bank a reasonable cheque before heading in 2018 to various tour schools and feeder tours.
It’s the fifth time the tournament has been staged at Royal Pines Resort with previous winners there including Harold Varner III, Nathan Holman, Greg Chalmers and Adam Scott.
Keep an eye out for Cameron Smith who had a strong performance last week in Sydney finishing outright fourth, and is coming off a strong PGA Tour season with a victory at the Zurich Classic, a top-5 finish in the CIMB Classic and a third in the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges.
Smith has three top-15 finishes at Royal Pines and he is in pursuit of his first individual top professional title and enters this week full of confidence and in fine form.
Nathan Holman, who took out the title in 2015 for his first professional title, will be striving for a repeat performance following a challenging season in Europe where he’s missed the cut in 16 of the 21 tournaments. Another solid result on the Gold Coast will be the kick start Holman needs to start the 2018 season.
Marc Leishman starts as one of the clear favourites after winning two prestigious events on the US PGA Tour this year – the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March and the BMW Championship in September. The world number 13 also recorded another five top-10 finishes, including an equal sixth at the British Open at Royal Birkdale.
Winless on Australian soil, Leishman is tipped to receive the Greg Norman Medal when it’s announced at Royal Pines this evening.
Adam Scott last won this tournament in a runaway fashion in 2013 but has not had the best year, failing to record a top-5 result to date. At home Scott flourishes – his record shows a win, a runner-up and 11 top-three finishes in his last 13 starts on home soil dating back to the year of his Australian PGA success.
Peter Senior has kept the engravers busy with his name appearing on the Joe Kirkwood Cup three times and at 58 he’ll use local knowledge to his advantage.
Whilst having taken a step back from tournament golf since 2016, his decision to compete this week has ensured his strong following will be out in force this week in support.