The European Tour swaps the sweeping ravines at the Maybank Championship for kangaroo-laden Lake Karrinyup Country Club in Perth for the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth.
Among those making the trip to Western Australia this week are Lee Westwood, Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, all hoping to win down under for the first time. However, they will have to negotiate the unique format in use this week, which sees three rounds of stroke play followed by Sunday match play, with the final day matches contested over six holes.
Our stats guru has weighed up the numbers to pick three players who could be on course for a strong week in the Australian sunshine.
Favourite: Brett Rumford
Not just a Perth native, but the defending champion, Brett Rumford needs little introduction to home fans this week. The 40 year old’s victory in the inaugural World Super 6 last season was his first triumph on home soil, but his sixth in a European Tour career defined by a peerless short game. Rumford’s craftsmanship in tight situations, performed with creativity and poise, comes to life on a course he knows so well.
His victory last season was notable for its consistency as well as ingenuity; he led wire-to-wire until the Sunday match play, when he progressed to the final to beat Phachara Khongwatmai 2 and 1. Rounds of 66, 65 and 68 in the stroke play section demonstrated his keen understanding of Lake Karrinyup’s quirks and local knowledge will again be put to good use. That might just give him the upper hand on another special homecoming.
A first European Tour victory was within agonising reach for Ryan Fox last week at the Maybank Championship. Finishing just three shots shy of top spot in Malaysia, Fox displayed not just his trademark distance off the tee, but consistency with his irons, finishing in the top 15 in Greens in Regulation every day. While length will always be a key component in the New Zealander’s arsenal – he finished second only to Rory McIlroy in the 2017 Driving Distance stakes – it was a solid all-round tee-to-green game that put him in contention last week.
Rumford showed the importance of a strong short game at Lake Karrinyup last year, something Fox has also excelled at in the formative part of the season. Ranked 11th in Putts per GIR (1.70) and fourth in Sand Saves (77.3 per cent), the 31 year old seems to be finding his touch around the greens. He finished in a share of 25th in this event last season, marginally missing out on a top 24 place that would have given him a chance of competing in the Sunday match play. With form on his side and a game that grows in maturity each week, Fox has a realistic chance of chalking up a first victory in Australia.
A beaten semi-finalist last season, Jason Scrivener will have more motivation than most to covet this week’s trophy. The Australian, born just an hour south of Perth, finished in the top eight of the stroke play section in the 2017 edition to qualify as a top seed for the Sunday match play. It should not have come as a surprise that Scrivener made it so far, though; in four previous appearances at Lake Karrinyup, he has three top 19 finishes, including outright third in 2016.
He arrives in solid form, too, with a top six at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and a share of 15th at the Australian PGA Championship in his pocked. Intriguingly, Scrivener is one of many players on tour who defending champion Rumford has offered coaching advice to. If he can harness his mentor’s short game and continue solid early-season form, Scrivener could be a canny wildcard pick.
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