Those who like a break from the traditional 72-hole stroke play format should enjoy this week on the European Tour.
In a move that will supposedly “revolutionise golf”, the World Super 6 Perth in Australia will mix stroke play and match play.
“We believe that golf needs to look at new and innovative formats,” says Keith Pelley, Chief Executive Officer of the European Tour.
“Cricket has Twenty20, Netball has Fast5, Rugby Union has Rugby7’s and now golf has the World Super 6 Perth,” says Brian Thorburn, CEO of the PGA of Australia and PGA Tour of Australasia. The latter tri-sanctions the event along with the Asian Tour.
A good idea? Read the format below and see what you think. Twitter seems unconvinced. Professional golf seems to work quite well right now so why tamper is a common view.
From a gamer’s perspective, it’s all very well devising these fancy new ideas but how about getting the basics right. You know, like having a website that lists stats.
It’s a huge bugbear to fantasy managers that the European Tour doesn’t list a player’s round-by-round Driving Distance, Driving Accuracy, Greens In Regulation or putting stats anymore. It’s keen to promote fantasy games and yet omits the very thing that would increase participation and enjoyment.
Anyway, back to this week and here’s what we have in store...
For 54 holes, nothing changes. It’s usual stroke play and there’s the standard 36-hole cut (top 65 and ties). However, after day three, the field is reduced to the top 24 players (ties decided by a play-off). The tournament then switches to match play. As reward for playing well Thursday-Saturday, the top eight on the leaderboard get a bye through to round two of the match play section so can put their feet up until the last 16. The match play head-to-heads are played over just six holes although, of course, may be done in just four if a player goes 3 up. If these mini matches are all-square after 6, contests are decided on a new 90-meter Shootout Hole which uses the 18th green and a purpose-built tee adjacent to the 18th fairway. If a winner doesn't emerge, the Shootout Hole is played continually until one player comes out on top. The six-hole match play format continues through to the final. In theory, the winner could play 35 holes on Sunday if he doesn’t get a bye and all five of his six-hole matches went to the Shootout Hole and then nearest the pin (30 + 5). I think!
60 players from the European Tour, 60 from the PGA Tour of Australasia and 30 from the Asian Tour.
Lake Karrinyup is a tree-lined 7,143-yard par 72 featuring fairly wide fairways and Penn G6 Bent grass greens. Opened in 1929, it was designed by Alex Russell, the Aussie partner of iconic architect Alister MacKenzie (Augusta National). Geoff Ogilvy and Mike Clayton did further work on it in 2007. It’s hosted four Australian Opens, two Johnnie Walker Classics and, more recently, staged the European Tour’s Perth International in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016. Overall, 104 players in the field have played it so there’s plenty of past course form to help gamers solve this week’s particularly tricky puzzle.
It’s worth noting that the holes used for the Sunday match play segment of the tournament are:
1st: Par 4 (322 yards)
2nd: Par 4 (468 yards)
8th: Par 3 (220 yards)
11th: Par 5 (553 yards)
12th: Par 3 (148 yards)
18th: Par 4 (444 yards)
With two par 3s in the first five holes, it would be nice if the European Tour had Par 3 stats. It doesn’t. Just sayin’.
There’s some rain in the build-up but sunshine dominates the forecast for all four tournament days. Temperatures spike in the early 90s for Sunday’s match play section while the winds could be a real factor throughout.
The Leading Contenders
Course form is nice an easy. The former Open champ has played here once and won once. That came in last year’s Perth International when he ousted Alexander Levy by a shot after shooting 16-under. Current form offers further encouragement as Oosthuizen took third place in the Waste Management Phoenix Open on his last start, finishing 2nd for Greens In Regulation at TPC Scottsdale. He could easily be leading this event after three rounds… before crashing out in a mini six-hole contest to someone he beat by 15 shots in the stroke play section. That’s the format folks!
Noren finished runner-up in last year’s Paul Lawrie Matchplay in Scotland so enjoys the regular version of the head-to-head format at least. The Swede was red hot in the second half of 2016, winning four times and climbing into the world’s top 10 (currently 11th making him the highest ranked player in the field) and has been solid in two starts this year (T13 Abu Dhabi, T21 Qatar). This is his course debut.
The American has already taken a shine to Lake Karrinyup having finished T4 (2016) and T9 (2014) in the two Perth Internationals he played there. He’s also made a strong start to 2017 with T7 in the South African Open and T5 in the Dubai Desert Classic. Now fit again, Uihlein is a man to watch on the European Tour this season.
Like Oosthuizen, Olesen is another former course winner. The Dane’s win at Lake Karrinyup came in October 2014 when he posted 17-under to secure a three-shot win over Victor Dubuisson. Olesen, who will enjoy the windy conditions, was 3-for-3 on the recent Desert Swing although couldn’t better the T29 he managed in Abu Dhabi.
The rookie is already 18th on this season’s Race to Dubai after a string of impressive early-season displays which include solo third at the South African Open and T6 at the Qatar Masters. He started the campaign with a missed cut in the Australian PGA Championship (78-71) so will hope for better luck Down Under this time. Smith lost both singles matches at the 2013 Walker Cup if that counts for anything.
He’ll have plenty of support from the Kiwis in the crowd and also some positive course form to draw upon having taken T9 in the 2014 Perth International at Lake Karrinyup. The New Zealander has enjoyed lots of success in this part of the world and his last 13 starts in Australia show two wins, five other top 10s and a further two top 20s. He was 3-for-3 on the Desert Swing with a best of T19 in Abu Dhabi.
The South African-born Aussie was T39 in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai and before that T10 in the Hong Kong Open. Scrivener’s appeal takes a big jump forward when assessing his Lake Karrinyup form which reads 3-15-28-19. T4 in last November’s Australian Open was a third top four in his last six starts on home soil.
One of the well-established Aussies on the European Tour, Rumford is a real course horse at Lake Karrinyup. He’s 6-for-6 across the Johnnie Walker Championship and Perth International and in the latter has finished T7 (2016) and T6 (2013) as well as cracking the top 20 in 2014. Also T5 in the co-sanctioned 2016 Australian PGA Championship, he was T18 in last week’s Victorian Open – his 11th top 20 in 12 starts on home soil.
Korhonen took third at the Portugal Masters in his penultimate start of 2016 and has cashed on all four starts in 2017. That includes T7 in the South African Open and T20 in last week’s Maybank Championship in Malaysia. He can also bring some very handy course form to the table courtesy of T15 (2014) and T9 (2016) in the two latest editions of the Perth International.
His defense of the Maybank Championship last week didn’t go well (MC) although, to be fair, it was on a different course. The week before he had ventured back home to finish third in the Australian Tour’s Victorian PGA Championship and in December he cracked the top 10 at the Hong Kong Open. Fraser’s appeal is definitely enhanced by course form of 15-15-18 at Lake Karrinyup.