The European Tour moves on to Perth this week for the third staging of the quirky ISPS Handa World Super 6. Steve Rawlings has the lowdown before Thursday's start here...
"Given we’ve only had two editions, it’s far too early to make any assumptions but it might be worth highlighting that despite it looking like a bit of a lottery on paper, both the first two winners have been fairly well-fancied."
After a successful ISPS Handa Vic Open, the European Tour remains Down Under for the third edition of the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth - an event that replaced the Perth International on the European Tour schedule in 2017. It's a tri-sanctioned event between the European Tour, the Asian Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia,
It's a unique stroke play - match play hybrid tournament with a format (see below) that's a bit quirky but entertaining all the same.
The ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth starts like any other stroke play event with the field being reduced to the top-65 and ties after 36 holes of stroke play but it all changes significantly after that...
Assuming no changes to the format, the field is cut again to a hard top-24 after 54 holes. The top eight players receive byes to the second round of the six-hole match play ties played on Sunday, with the tiebreaker being the overall third round score, then the last nine, then six, then three, and then the final hole to break ties.
Any ties for the 24th place will be determined in a sudden-death playoff from a brand new tee to the 18th green which measures 100 yards. That hole is called the 'Shootout Hole'. In the inaugural event, eight players played off for the final five spots and last year, nine men played off for the final eight places.
The eventual winner last year, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, had holed a 12 foot par save on the 54th hole just to get into the nine-man playoff and after bogeying the first extra hole, he was the last man to qualify for the match play phase when he finally defeated Anthony Quayle at the fourth extra hole.
Again, assuming the format remains the same, on the final day, only the six holes listed below will be used for the match play element.
10th par-4 (369 yards)
11th par-5 (553 yards)
13th par-4 (453 yards)
14th par-4 (330 yards)
12th par 3 (148 yards)
18th par 4 (444 yards)
With the top-eight after 54 holes through to round two of the match play element, in the first match play round, the ninth placed player on the final standings from the stroke play element plays the 24th placed player, the 10th placed plays the 23rd placed player, and so on and so forth.
Should any ties be all-square after the sixth hole, the players return to the 100-yard Shootout hole to determine who progresses.
In the second round, the eight winners from the first round will play the eight players that did not play in the first round (the top eight after the stroke play element). In the third round, the eight winners participate in the quarter-finals. The four winners then participate in the semi-finals, and the finalists will then play in the final six-hole match of the tournament.
Lake Karrinyup Country Club, Perth, Western Australia
Par 72, 7143 yards
Stroke index in 2018 - 72.34
Lake Karrinyup was the venue for all five editions of the Perth International and it was also used for the Johnnie Walker Championship in 2002 and 2003, when South Africans, Retief Goosen (-14) and Ernie Els (-29) won with plenty to spare by eight and ten shots respectively.
It's a fairly hilly course with wide eucalyptus-framed fairways. The greens are described as undulating and firm with tricky run-off areas and the rough is minimal.
Live on Sky all four days, starting on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 5:00 UK time and at 3:00 on Sunday
Brett Rumford bt Phachara Khongwatmai 2&1
Adam Bland and Jason Scrivener
Kiradech Aphibarnrat bt James Nitties 2 & 1
Lucas Herbert and Sam Horsfield
What Will it Take to Win the World Super 6 Perth?
Although tree-lined, there's plenty of space off the tee here and neither Driving Accuracy nor Driving Distance is important. Looking back at the stats for the Perth International events staged here, the first two winners ranked tied third and 11th for Driving Accuracy but Thorbjorn Olesen won despite ranking just 66th for DA and the 2016 runner-up, Alex Levy, ranked 73rd for DA. The winner, Louis Oosthuizen (pictured), ranked 15th.
Jin Jeong only ranked 64th for Driving Distance when he won and only two of the top-21 in 2016 ranked inside the top-ten for DD, so power isn't an essential prerequisite either.
It's all about finding greens and scrambling well when you don't here. All four Perth International winners ranked inside the top-eight for Greens In Regulation (Oosty ranked number one in 2016) and although Osty only ranked 59th for Scrambling, the first three home the year before ranked fourth, third and first, and the first three home in 2012 ranked fourth, 12th and first.
The first two winners of the event in this format are both renowned short game wizards and it doesn't surprise to see that three of the top-12 in the European Tour's Scrambling stats for 2018 have recently won at this venue.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
Given we've only had two editions, it's far too early to make any assumptions but it might be worth highlighting that despite it looking like a bit of a lottery on paper, both the first two winners have been fairly well-fancied.
Winning match play experience may have helped Aphibarnrat - his previous victory had been in the Paul Lawrie Match Play in 2015.
Over the last couple of years, I've layed all competitors priced at less than 100/1 before the off.
In 2017, I layed the first 31 in the market and only eight made it to the final day and last year it was 10 from 33 but in both years, the fancied player went on to win the final, despite trailing early on.
The field quality is weak and anything can happen in the early stages. Former world number one, Lee Westwood, and defending champ, Brett Rumford, both traded at single figure prices last year when they led the stroke play element through 36 holes but both shot 78 on Saturday and neither progressed to the match play phase. Nobody is safe with 18 to play and nerves hit even the most the experienced in the field.
In both renewals, half of the players to finish inside the top-eight of the stroke play element, which resulted in them missing the first round of the match play element, won their first match play matches, in the second round of 16 to reach the quarter-finals. I theorised that they might be disadvantaged against opposition that had already played a tie but that doesn't appear the case.
To progress to the final, even those that play well need a slice of luck. Aphibarnrat bumbled his way to the final with both his quarter-final and semi-final opponents messing up the final hole and the runner-up, James Nitties, should have been knocked out in the first round. He trailed by two with two to play against Nick Cullen, but Cullen missed a five-footer to progress at the fifth hole before Nitties birdied the last to tie. It seems to me that the opening rounds are very hard to predict with the better players falling by the wayside but what limited evidence we have, luck appears to take a backseat in the final itself...
On both occasions the more experienced player kept his composure when their opponents didn't. It's one thing getting to the match play phase and winning a few ties (usually against others in the same boat) but when faced with a life changing six-hole final to win for the first time and to secure a place on the European Tour, the pressure seemed to tell for both beaten finalists Nitties last year and Phachara Khongwatmai 12 months earlier.
Nitties, a 370.0369/1 pre-tournament chance, who was 971 places below his opponent in the world rankings, traded at a low of 1.511/2 after he went one-up in the final but his driving went to pot after that and the vastly more experienced Aphibarnrat was ruthless once he smelt victory.
Trading wise, the timing of the tournament makes it really difficult for us in the UK. I'd have loved to have tweaked my book more last year by playing the matches and trading what I was seeing but (unsurprisingly) there wasn't an awful lot of liquidity in the early hours and what little money there was in the market knew what had happened way before I did.
The Fox pictures Down Under were several minutes ahead of Sky's in the UK and I ended up giving up 12 months ago so if you are going to trade the event in-running be very careful. If you are going to get involved, trading before the matches and/or setting predetermined trades might make sense but caution is most definitely advised.
In-form Englishman, Tom Lewis, heads the market and rightly so. He's missed the cut in the tournament in each of the last two years but since winning the Portugal Masters for a second time last year, the 28-year-old Englishman has ben in fine form. He has bags of match play experience from his amateur days and his GIR and Scrambling figures are very good. He's worthy favourite.
Jason Scrivener is from Mandurah, just south of Perth, so it's probably not surprising to se he has bags of course form. He failed to make the match play stage last year when well-fancied but he was a beaten semi-finalist two years ago and he has Perth International form figures here that read 19-28-15-3. He's in really good form, having finished seventh at the Dubai Desert Classic and fifth at the Vic Open on Sunday, but his sole success to date came in the lowkey New South Wales Open in 2017 and he's no spring chicken given he's 30 in April.
Thomas Pieters is an interesting entrant who really does need to give his career a reboot. He was a sensation at the 2016 Ryder Cup so we know he has match play prowess in abundance but he hasn't won since 2016 and his last top-five finish was in Mexico almost two years ago.
Pieters is only in fair form at present, he missed the cut at the Perth International in 2014 and he's priced up on reputation rather than anything more substantial.
I'm backing just the one before the off, my each-way selection, Poom Saksansin, but I quite like his chances. My reasoning for his selection is set out in the each-way piece here.
Poom Saksansin @ 80.079/1
I'll be back this afternoon with my Genesis Open preview.
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