Adam Scott is looking forward to taking on the challenge of the revamped back nine as he returns to RACV Royal Pines Resort for the Australian PGA Championship.
The home favourite has an excellent record on the Gold Coast, winning this title in 2013 and then losing out to Greg Chalmers in a marathon play-off the following year after playing the 18th eight times in total.
The former World Number One did not play the event last season and in the last two years the back nine has been transformed by golf course architect Graham Marsh, making it a very different proposition.
The 18th, therefore, may not immediately bring back memories of the heartbreak of losing that play-off, but Scott is looking forward to taking it on again.
"The course has definitely toughened up the back nine since I last played it and it’s going to be a real challenge this week, especially with it being warm and windy," he said.
"The back nine showed last year it’s already had some victims and I’m sure there are going to be a few more.
"It’s going to be really important to get the ball on the green this week and stay out of these low chipping areas that are very, very difficult to play from.
"A new challenge but looking forward to it. I’m very happy to be here and feel like my game was in good shape today, so I’m optimistic about how I’ll go this week.
“In some ways I guess it’s good [that the 18th has been remodelled], but it’s pretty extreme now. It’s changed dramatically, and now I think it’s probably one of the most important greens to hit."
You go out and have a good day and hit 16 greens, yeah, for sure, I can see a low score - Adam Scott
The event was won at level par last season as Nathan Holman prevailed after a play-off, with high winds the main cause of the high scoring
The breeze is expected to get up once again but Scott believes there is a low score out there if players can hit enough greens in regulation
"I think the greens seem to be soft or softer and I think as soon as the greens get soft there’s a lot more chance of holding on to them, obviously, and guys can fire at the pins a little bit more," he said.
"But they certainly seem to have a little water in them and I think that’s probably a good thing with the winds expected to get up. They’re a very severe set of greens and you don’t have to be that off to funnel down in one of the chipping areas.
"You go out and have a good day and hit 16 greens, yeah, for sure, I can see a low score."
Scott Hend kicks off his 2017 season with some momentum after a career campaign in 2016 that saw him win the True Thailand Classic Presented by Chang and finish 27th in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.
The 43 year old is looking to maintain that good form and he, like Scott, believes a low score is possible this week.
“I think there’s a low score out there," he said. "Obviously it always depends on the wind conditions here. If it gets really windy, it’s really difficult.
"I’ve played the back nine only, I haven’t played the front nine yet, but I still think there’s a 62 or 63 out there, if you play well enough.
“It’s always the same, if you can hole the putts and put the ball in the right position, the par fives are still reachable. A couple of the par threes are pretty tough, but I still think there’s a low score out there.”
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