Faves a risk at Royal Sydney

Image courtesy pga.com Image courtesy pga.com

Emirates Australian Open
Royal Sydney Golf Club
28 Nov - 1 Dec 2013


This tournament has since 2009 been jointly sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and the OneAsia Tour.
Despite selling out to OneAsia, the event remains one of the true heritage events in Australian golf dating back to 1904 and rotated annually around some of Australia's most prestigious courses.

The rather snooty and upmarket Royal Sydney hosts for a staggering 14th time this year, a course where the most recent winners here have been: Tim Clark (2008), John Senden (2006), Aaron Baddeley (1999) and Robert Allenby (1994). I say 'staggering' as there are many superior tests of golf in New South Wales, never mind the rest of Australia; I guess the wealth and influence of the Club's 6,000-odd members holds some sway!
Australia has long been uncompetitive in global prize money terms so the best golfers have traditionally given this part of the world a miss while most quality Aussie pro's want to try and win their national open. These twin factors account for Australians having won 14 of the past 15 opens and who would bet against another aussie winner in 2013?

The Course

Royal Sydney is a parklands layout with a few lingering links pretensions, and no course designer's influence has predominated. It's a billion-dollar property, spectacularly located in Rose Bay, one of Sydney's most upmarket harbourside suburbs, just 10 minutes or so from the CBD.

It's a relatively short, tight, 6,939yd (6,344m) par 72. The course's quickness in summer (fairways and greens) means the primary requirement is to keep drives on the short grass or first cut; wayward driving is punished by bunkering and trees.

Though the undulating bentgrass greens are traditionally hard and fast, they remain receptive to spin, further increasing the premium on accurate placement and course management.

Overall, the course is neither long nor tough unless the wind gets up and, from the betting perspective, I'll be looking here for straight drivers who can putt a bit.

Making the Case Against the Favourites

There are three top quality starters here and normally you'd expect the winner to emerge from that elite group comprising: Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day. However, I don't expect any of them to win. Here's why:

Adam Scott at 3.75 has forsaken his favourite early summer surfing haunts to instead get on a roll in his homeland since winning the PGA early in November. However, this will make it four weeks' golf in a row and that's a quantity of golf totally atypical for him throughout his career. I expect a bit of fatigue, or loss of concentration, to keep him out of the winner's circle here.

Rory McIlroy at 7.00 has had a winless 2013 after changing just about everything over the course of the year: balls, clubs, management company and even, if we believe the rumours, girlfriends! The outcome has been disastrous by his 2012 standards and he's barely even got into contention in a tournament since 2012! He's played Royal Sydney just the once (2006) for a 51st placing and there seems little reason to be confident he'll break his duck here.

Jason Day at 8.50 won the World Cup of Golf last week and there was a bit of extra emotion hanging over his week in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. I expect a natural letdown this week. Besides, this is a guy who averages one win every two years, so two wins in two weeks seems unlikely.

The Early Market

The above three champs naturally dominate the betting market ahead of 2006 winner here, John Senden, at 23.00. Then come two other popular Aussie hopes: Geoff Ogilvy & Aaron Baddeley at 29.00 with Kevin Streelman & Greg Chalmers hovering around the 30/1 mark.

Matt Jones & Marcus Fraser follow at 33's. After this group, the quality starts to drop away, fast!

My Selections

My top selection is Geoff Ogilvy each way at 29.00 (8.00 the place) with the bookies. For those of a trading inclination he'll be a bit longer on Betfair.

His two past starts at Royal Sydney in the Aussie Open have yielded 2nd & 6th and he was a solid 7th last time out in the Talisker Masters. Somewhat surprisingly, Geoff has not won since the 2010 Australian Open and, with the three favourites opposable here, I can't ignore him at this price on a track that suits.

My second selection is Mathew Goggin who also likes the course and who has been in good recent form. He's 40/1 - 50/1 in the early markets and thus merits a bit of each way money here.

My longshot tip for a place or Top10 is Stephen Dartnall who is 150/1 to 200/1 in early markets and who always strikes a bit of form around year end and whose game is well suited to Royal Sydney.

Cheers and good luck with your punting!

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