Australian PGA Championship: What To Watch Out For

Adam Scott headlines the field at RACV Royal Pines this week to round out the season on the PGA Tour of Australasia, in an event co-sanctioned with the European Tour.

Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Tour of Australasia comes to a close this week with the Australian PGA Championship, an event that is co-sanctioned with the European Tour.

The Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas this week has stripped the Aussie PGA of some of the big names that might have stuck around for what will be the third of three consecutive events Down Under.

Nonetheless, Adam Scott’s entrance into the field is a big draw in his home country. Played several time zones away from Tiger-palooza in the Bahamas, golf fans can still tune in while the HWC is at rest.

For those in the western hemisphere looking for a little late night golf, the Australian PGA has enough to keep your interest.

Here’s what to watch out for over the coming few days.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 17:  Henrik Stenson of Sweden and George O'Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, pose with the Race To Dubai trophy and the DP World Tour Championship after Stenson won the Race To Dubai and the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 17, 2013 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Technically speaking, the Australian PGA Championship is a 2017 European Tour event. It’s neither 2017, nor is Australia in Europe, but here we are in its first year as a co-sanctioned event with the PGA Tour of Australasia.

Just three weeks after Henrik Stenson took the 2016 R2D crown in Dubai, it’s already time to hit the refresh button on a new season. In the eyes of the Tour, it’s already 2017 and time to get rolling. The Aussie PGA and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship share the stage in getting the 2017 European Tour slate underway this week.

Twenty-two Official World Golf Ranking points for the winner and a purse of $1.5 million Australian ($1.2 million USD) are on the line this week.

The par-3 16th will also feature the Soniq Million Dollar Challenge on Sunday with $1 million on the line to split in the event of an ace between the player and a lucky fan.

This week’s venue is a Graham Marsh design playing at 7,316 yards and a par of 72. It was a brute last year under windy conditions. The winning score of 288 (even-par) was the highest of any event on Tour in 2016.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

If the world No. 7 Adam Scott doesn’t take the trophy this week, there’s a pretty good chance one of his countrymen will. Last year young Nathan Holman made it 16 years in a row for Aussies in this event that dates back over a century to 1905. It’s been somewhat of a rite of passage for up and coming Australian golfers to lift the Joe Kirkwood Cup. The list includes Greg Chalmers (three times), Greg Norman (twice), Robert Allenby (four times) and Scott in 2013.

This year there’s over 20 Aussies in the field of 112, including the marquee all-Aussie grouping of Scott, Chalmers and 20-year-old 2016 US Amateur Champion, Curtis Luck. Luck, along with fellow countryman and 20-year-old Brett Coletta, will vie to be the first amateur winner on the European Tour since Shane Lowry in 2009.

The all-Oceania group of Aussies John Senden and Marc Leishman and New Zealander Danny Lee will be sure to draw some eyeballs teeing off two groups later off of No. 10 bright and early at 6:30 a.m. local time.

Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a grab bag of players teeing it up this week, some in different stages of their careers than others.

For one, you’ve got former long drive champion, Jamie Sadlowski. He’s played in only six OWGR-counting events since 2015 with no better than a T46, so it’ll be interesting to see what he can muster after the tee shot’s taken care of. He played in the Australian Open two weeks ago and missed the cut.

Also present in the Gold Coast is Harold Varner III, who came over from America to spin his best performance of his career, a three-man playoff defeat that saw Varner card a 66 for the lowest score of the tournament.

Ian Poulter could use a springboard performance this week to get back to his old form. Y.E. Yang, Simon Dyson, Stephen Gallacher are also in the mix as multiple winners on Tour.

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