EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 6 Places
Jake Higginbottom is one of a number of local players this week with some good course form to lean on having finished tied sixth here on his last appearance two years ago. But, unlike some of his fellow Aussies, he's confident rust won't be an issue having kept the engine running over the Festive break. Higginbottom, who won the 2012 New Zealand Open as an amateur, showed his talents with a tied ninth in November's Hong Kong Open and kicked off 2019 with a solid tied 18th in the Singapore Open after three 70s and a 69. He admits he's been a slow starter in recent campaigns after taking too much time off but changed his approach this year, putting in the hours and getting some early reward with his good finish in Singapore. Getting 80/1 for a player with course and current form and an ability to hit a low ball in the wind seems good business.
Knowledge of local conditions should never be underestimated this week - as ever in Australia - and this former course winner warrants each-way attention. Papadatos has often turned up in co-sanctioned or championship events in Australia. Most recently he was runner-up at their last Open and then started strongly at the PGA, topping off a progressive season. Earlier the 27-year-old won a fourth professional title and finished second on the Challenge Tour, following on from a trio of top-20 finishes on rare European Tour outings. Papadatos won the Victorian Open two years ago - his third top-15 finish in the event.
Gregory Bourdy is not in a great patch of form right now but perhaps this week's test will bring the bounce this classy Frenchman needs. As mentioned in my preview, 13th Beach looks a similar test to Oitavos Dunes and East London, two courses that have rewarded Bourdy in the past - he was a winner in Portugal and runner-up in South Africa. In addition to all that there's an outside chance that the presence of the women's field is a positive because his sister Melodie used to play on the LET.
Twice a winner in Australasia since 2015, Matthew Millar looks a decent price to again go well in the part of the world where he is at his best. Though my man missed a cut in Singapore on his last appearance that looks like it can probably be put down to rust as a six tournament run preceding saw him finish top five on five occasions with a 'worst' result of 14th! Millar has some interesting form at 13th Beach with a runner-up finish in 2016 and another top 10 though a few missed cuts ruin the record. Set against the wider recent form the 50/1 is enough to tempt me in at a tournament where local knowledge should be a big advantage.
It was only a couple of seasons ago that Callum Shinkwin was a mini gamble - okay, make that minuscule - for the Open Championship after a fine couple of weeks on the links, and he once again showed a likeness for that particular test of golf when runner-up in the Scottish Open 18 months ago. The 25-year-old has since had just a handful of decent finishes but that can be expected as consistency is one of hardest things to find for a young professional golfer, with missed cuts and down-the-field finishes quite common. But the Englishman is a class act on his day who plays his best golf on links or links-type courses like the ones he'll face at this event. This is also one of the weakest fields Shinkwin will have been in for sometime so there's absolutely no reason why he can't build on his excellent opening rounds at the recent Dubai Desert Classic and be in contention come Sunday afternoon.