Scott ready to defend at revamped Royal Pines

Adam Scott’s last chance to defend one of his two titles won during last year’s ‘Green Jacket’ tour will commence at the Australian PGA Championship at RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast this Thursday.

The world number three is the best ranked player in the field and will be a heavy favourite, although the assembled cast will give him a run for his money as will the new nine holes that underwent an extensive renovation the morning after the final putt dropped at the RACV Ladies Masters in February.

Adam Scott Adam Scott holds the 2013 Australian PGA trophy (Credit: Anthony Powter)

After missing the Masters and Australian Open to attend his caddie’s wedding in Victoria, world number 46 Marc Leishman makes a welcome return to Australian tournament action on the Gold Coast. Leishman will be in search of his first major win at home and his first title since the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour in 2012.

Others Australians looking to feature at the pointy end of the championship include John Senden, Steven Bowditch, Brendan Jones and the three players who finished two – four respectively behind Jordan Spieth at The Australian Golf Club two weeks ago to earn starts in next year’s British Open – Rod Pampling, Brett Rumford and Greg Chalmers.

Four-time PGA Champion Robert Allenby enjoyed a solid Australian Open and is in the kind of form to pose a threat, as is Betfair Masters winner Nick Cullen.

American Boo Weekley and countryman Scott Stallings – a three-time winner on the PGA Tour – add an international flavour to the event while Zimbabwean President Cup representative Brendan de Jonge is a seasoned player on the PGA Tour and overdue for a victory in a championship such as this.

However, Graham Marsh’s renovation of the front nine holes to be used for the championship will hog as many headlines as the players themselves, especially early in the week. A recent walk through of the new nine holes highlighted that Marsh had delivered on his plan to reduce green sizes, reduce and stiffen fairway and greenside bunkering, while adding a lot more movement to the green surfaces and surrounds.

With nobody having played on the new holes since construction, course conditions should be exceptional and it will be intriguing to see how the hybrid of the old and new nines come together and what scores are possible this week.

The 2014 Australian PGA Championship will be broadcast live on Channel 7 for all four rounds, starting on Thursday December 11 to Sunday December 14.