Great Scott Heads Home

Picture: Brett Costello/heraldsun.com.au
With Brandt Snedeker a late withdrawal from the tournament after injuring his knee in China, local boy Adam Scott goes in to the Australian PGA Championship as a raging hot favourite. The tournament has moved from its previous home at Coolum after the odd issue with resort owner Clive Palmer last year, and the event will now be hosted by Royal Pines on the Gold Coast.

The course hosts the Ladies Masters each February, and there are concerns a layout which was originally set up for resort visitors may be torn apart from a field of topliners. Some lengthened tees have added a couple of hundred metres to the course, but if the guns drive straight, then it will effectively come down to a putting competition on the monster greens.

Scott won twice this year, most memorably becoming the first Australian to drape the green jacket over his shoulders at Augusta with his Masters win, while he also picked up the prestigious Barclays tournament over a crack field. He has picked up two big tournament wins on Australian soil; the 2009 Australian Open at New South Wales G.C. and the Australian Masters last year at Kingston Heath. The 33-year-old comes in to the the PGA fresh with this his first full strokeplay event since September.

One American who should fit right in on the Glitter Strip is Rickie Fowler . The 24-year-old dresses and plays with flair, but he produced some encouraging results throughout 2013. He heads to the Coast after playing in Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai the past two weeks without challenging. Fowler was very solid from the middle of the year onwards finishing in a tie for 10th at the US Open and shared 19th place in the PGA Championship, while also claiming a tie for 9th in the Barclays, three shots behind Scott. He finished 14th when he played in this event at Coolum two years back and he only has two career wins to his credit.

Another player who went around in the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur is another Australian hope, Marc Leishman . He was sensational in a couple of the majors this year tying for 4th at the Masters and then finishing tied for 12th at the PGA Championship. He split his four matches at the President’s Cup and beat Matt Kuchar in his singles match.

Away from the big names, Scott Hend is the standout. The Queenslander absolutely rips the ball off the tee, and if he drives straight, he’ll be hitting a lot of short irons in to the big greens. He won three times on the Asian Tour in 2013, including victories in Taiwan and Macau in October. Melbourne-based South Korean Jin Jeong is also in form after taking out the Perth International last month in a playoff from talented Englishman Ross Fisher.

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