Perth International: Bowditch can shine back in Oz, says The Punter

Steve Bowditch after his win in Texas in March
Steve Bowditch after his win in Texas in March

Our man takes a detailed look at this week's European Tour action Down Under. What will it take to win the Perth International and who are the Punter's three picks?

“Having won the Texas Open in March, Steven Bowditch returns to his homeland as a PGA Tour winner for the first time. That should give him much confidence and given he’s in decent form at present too, I can see him winning his fourth title Down Under.”

Tournament History

This is just the third Perth International - an event co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australia and the European Tour.

It's the last event of the season before the Race to Dubai's Final Series kicks off at the BMW Masters in China next week.

Those inside the top-60 in the Race to Dubai standings after this event will advance to China and those outside the top-110 will lose their playing rights for the 2015 season.


Venue

Lake Karrinyup Country Club, Perth, Western Australia


Course Details

Par 72, 7143 yards
Stroke index in 2013 - 73.02

Lake Karrinyup is 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. 

In addition to the first two renewals of this event, the Johnnie Walker Championship was staged here 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.


Useful Sites
Event Site

Course Site
Course Tour
Twitter Link
Tee Times
Weather Forecast


TV Coverage

Live on Sky Sports all four days - 04:30 on Thursday and Friday, 04:00 on Saturday and 03:00 on Sunday


First Two Winners

2013 - Jin Jeong -10 (playoff)
2012 - Bo Van Pelt -16


What Will it Take to Win The Perth International?

Top-class PGA Tour players, Bo Van Pelt and Jason Dufner, finished clear of the remainder in the inaugural staging of this event two years ago and the two easy winners of the Johnny Walker here, Els and Goosen, are both multiple major winners, so the cream had risen to the top and separated from the field but last year it just went sour.

Dustin Johnson was the man to beat before the off and he was matched in-running at just a shade over 3.02/1 early on in the event when he got to the lead but he was far too aggressive for the course. He appeared ill at ease and refused to heed his caddying brother's advice to play more conservatively - racking up bogeys and double bogeys as a result.

The event eventually went to 1000.0 shot, Jin Jeong, but as strange as it might sound, I don't see this as a tournament to suit outsiders and I fancy as time goes on the list of champions will be an illustrious one. The course is tricky and with the Freemantle Doctor blowing hard and drying the course out as the week goes on I expect the better players to shine. 


Is There an Angle In?

In just a short space of time, a number of players that play well at Wentworth have performed well here and it's not really surprising. Both courses are tree-lined and wind-affected and anyone that likes Surrey's finest is highly likely to enjoy this course too.

As this is the final counting event of the European Tour season proper, a number of players are on the brink of losing their cards and have made the long trip Down Under. Lee Slattery currently sits in the perilous position of 110th with the likes of Matthew Nixon and Eduardo De La Riva looking to overtake him and keep their playing privileges for next season. 

The pressure may well tell towards the end of the tournament but one or two of those around the 110 mark could well start well and be good back-to-lay vehicles. It may also be worth looking at those who have made the long trip who are sitting just outside the top-60. A good week from either Thorbjorn Olesen and/or David Horsey would see them on their way to China next week for the lucrative Final Series.


In-Play Tactics

This doesn't look like a catch-up course and if any of the class acts gets to the front early on, they might just power away if past results are anything to go by.

At the 2002 Johnnie Walker here, Goosen was fourth after round one and in front by halfway. He was a remarkable 13 strokes clear after round three before shooting an over-par 73 to win by eight. Els then won wire-to-wire by 10 strokes 12 months later and in the inaugural staging of this event, Emiliano Grillo was four clear at halfway but was soon swamped by the classy pair, Van Pelt and Dufner, and in the end, those two finished five and three strokes clear of Alejandro Canizares in third. Jeong caused a huge shock last year but he was in front after round one and never outside the front-three.

If it does get close on Sunday and you're trading in-running, bear in mind that the last three holes are all tough so if someone posts a score they might not get caught. Holes 16, 17 and 18 have ranked inside the top-four toughest holes in each of the last two years.


Market Leaders

When I started looking at the event last week I thought I'd be concentrating hard on the market leaders but none of them make any appeal. 

Charl Schwartzel missed the cut here two years ago, Victor Dubuisson is playing the course for the first time and could be a bit fatigued after the Ryder Cup and last week's Volvo Match Play Championship, Danny Willett, as he always does, looks too short and Dufner hasn't shown much in a quite a while. 

A case could arguably be made for recent Barracuda Championship winner, Geoff Ogilvy, but that was his first win in a very long time and I'm more than happy to pass him by too.


Selections

Having won the Texas Open in March, Steven Bowditch returns to his homeland as a PGA Tour winner for the first time. That should give him much confidence and given he's in decent form at present too, I can see him winning his fourth title Down Under.

He missed the cut last week in Las Vegas but I'm more than happy to overlook that. He'd finished runner-up at the Frys.com Open the week before and was perhaps flat when he shot 75 on Thursday. He followed that with a much improved 66 and he has a touch of class about him that I felt the layers had ignored.

When I previewed this event last year I put forward the Russian Open venue, the Tseleevo Golf and Polo Club, as a venue that might well correlate with this course. A number of players had form at both tracks so there could still be something in it but having watched the Russian Open closely in July, I'm not so sure now - they certainly don't look particularly alike. 

Whether there is or whether there isn't a course correlation, I still like this year's Russian Open winner, David Horsey, at a triple-figure price. He's not the most reliable in-the-mix but he has a solid bank of form at Wentworth. 

And finally, he's been in poor form but I thought Brett Rumford was worth chancing at 100/1 on the Sportsbook given the Perth native is a multiple European Tour winner and that he knows the course so well.


Selections:
Steve Bowditch @ 50.049/1
David Horsey @ 100.099/1
Brett Rumford @ 100/1 (Sportsbook)


I'll be back on Friday with the In-Play Blog.


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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