Australian Open Preview

Emirates Australian Open
26-29 November 2014
The Australian Club, Rosebery, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Introduction

The annual battle for the Stonehaven Cup will take place for the 2nd consecutive year at The Australian Club, the host of the first Open in 1904 and an ever-present in the rotation.

The most recent winners here have been Peter Lonard (2004), Craig Parry (2007) & Jordan Spieth (2014) - all skilful non-bombers who characterise the skill-set required for success on this course.

Australian players have won 18 of the past 22 Opens, though mainly because most top professionals stopped coming from the 1980's as money steadily replaced tradition in the golfing world.

Course

The course, which was re-designed by that Jack Nicklaus in 1977, is a challenging track with plenty of the original water and bunkers plus more recently introduced trees, placing a premium on accuracy off the tee.

In addition approach play precision, often in tricky cross-winds, is required into greens that are diagonally laid-out to deliberately challenge approaches.

These difficulty factors are somewhat counterbalanced by the relative shortness of this Par71 7,000yd (6,400m) layout though only four players finished under par when Lonard (-3) won. In 2007 Parry won with 11-under and Spieth last year was -13 but one of only 8 players under par . It's clearly no pushover!

Top of the Market

2.75 Jordan Spieth
7.50 Adam Scott
17.00 Marc Leishman
19.00 John Senden
26.00 Peter Uihlein, Matt Jones & Steven Bowditch
34.00 Lee Westwood & Brett Rumford

No argument with Jordan Spieth, the defending champion, being the hot favourite ahead of Adam Scott, though Rory McIlroy failed to defend in identical circumstances last year.

In picking a winner it's actually impossible for me to look past superstar Spieth. He's already won here, is the top player in the world, the course suits his game more than most and the 2nd favourite, Adam Scott, has dropped from world-ranked #3 this time last year to #12 and didn't exactly cover himself in glory last week - 5th after leading by 3 shots on day one.

Who will Win?

Jordan Spieth should win but how can one tip at a price of 2.75 when there are 155 other competitors? Conversely, how can one tip against him. I'm therefore giving the outright win market a complete miss.

If bookmakers put up a without-Spieth (or without Spieth & Scott) market, then look no further than these two guys as each way betting propositions:

Injury plagued Michael Sim who has 3 x Top10's in his four most recent Tour starts. He is hopefully getting back to the form that made him the world's top ranked amateur in 2005 and had him touted as a future PGA Tour star after he won three times on the WebCom Tour in 2009.

Sim's 66/1 - 100/1 in early markets and well worth an each-way bet in any market that excludes the favourite(s).

My other fancy is 22-y-o star amateur Jordan Niebrugge. He made the 2015 Open Championship at St Andrews as a qualifier and proceeded to finish 6th, and with the lowest amateur total (277) ever!

As Bryson DeChambeau amply demonstrated last week, and Spieth here last year, USA young guns can come to Australia without local experience and shine. Niebrugge has opened at 50/1 around the traps; I rate him 30/1 here.

Top10 Value

Given the quality of the two players at the top of the market, who should both place in a field as weak as this, I'm recommending two Top10 bets whose prices I believe are well 'over the odds'.

My first selection is Kiwi Daniel Pearce who opened at 275/1 - 1,000/1 with the bookies; I rate him 125/1 to win here. He's been in solid form in recent times with his formline on the 2015 PGA Tour China reading well, followed by 29th & 18th the past two weeks in Australia.

All Kiwi bias aside, that's the sort of form that could precede a Top10 placing, at huge odds! Bookie prices range from 23.00 - 67.00 as I type.

My other Top10 selection is Scott Strange. I rate him 125/1 while bookmakers have opened at 125/1 up to 300/1 on a player far better credentialled than many above him in the betting! A 2nd & 4th earlier this year on the Japan Tour confirms it; he missed the cut in just two of 16 Japan starts in 2015.

This is a guy who not so many years ago won the Celtic Manor wales Open & Volvo China Open along with a 4th in the Omega Dubai. 300/1 my ass! Early Top10 prices are 13.00 - 23.00

Cheers and Good Luck with your Golf Punting!

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