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A leap into the unknown for the European Tour and punters alike this week as the Perth International has morphed into the World Super 6 and a new hybrid format of stroke play and match play awaits us in Australia. For the first three days this week it will be (almost) like nothing has changed since we visited Lake Karinnyup 12 months ago, however at the end of Saturday it will become interesting to say the least.
The way it will work is as follows: the first two days will operate as a normal stroke play European Tour event with the cut falling at the top 65 professionals and ties. The goal on Saturday though is to get into the top 8 ideally and top 24 at the very least to progress into Sunday. The top 8 players are then seeded into the second round of knockout matches where there'll meet the winner of the round 1 matches, all of which are played over six holes with a 100 yard 'knockout hole' determining the outcome of any tied match. From there we have a straight knockout of the remaining 16 players over the 6 hole matches until we have an eventual winner. For more details on the format click here.
It's worth noting that there are a couple of ways you can choose to bet on this week's event: outright winner and 54-hole stroke play leader. Given that the eventual winner will triumph via the match play format, the bookmakers are paying just 4 places each way outright as per a more conventional match play event. The alternative is to ignore the match play on Sunday and treat the first 3 days as a standalone tournament which is what a handful of bookmakers have done by offering a 54-hole market at 5 places each-way 1/4 odds - Sky Bet, Stan James and Bet Victor are offering this market at the time of writing.
The other nuance to pick out of the outright winner betting market this week is that although most bookies are offering 4 places each-way at 1/4 odds, it's worth noting that both Paddy Power and Boylesports are offering 4 places at 1/3 odds at the time of writing - if the odds are identical on your selected player then using Paddy Power or Boylesports returns a huge 33% more for a place return. Current prices here: Paddy Power | Boylesports
Over on the PGA Tour, Steve Bamford previews The Genesis Open - you can read his preview for that event here.
Lake Karinnyup CC. Designer: Alex Russell, 1929; Course Type: Classical; Par: 72; Length: 7,143 yards; Water Hazards: 1; Fairways: Santa Anna Hybrid Couch; Rough: Wintergreen Couch / Tall Fescue; Greens: Bentgrass (G6).
Course Overview. This week's host course Lake Karinnyup is a classical, tree-lined affair just a couple of miles in from the Indian Ocean. The track hosted a number of top-level tournaments prior to the 2012-2016 events, most relevant to us the 2002 & 2003 Johnnie Walker Classic won by Retief Goosen and Ernie Els respectively. You can find details of those events in our event stats section, albeit there are only a few survivors from those older events playing here this week. The 2003 win by The Big Easy holds its own place in European Tour history as the South African's 29-under total is still the biggest winning score under par in any European Tour event. The course has been remodelled by former European Tour player Mike Clayton since Els' win, however, with changes predominantly around the greens giving the track a little more protection, it's safe to say that this is now a much more challenging proposition.
At 7,143 yards the course isn't overly long by today's standards, however with a number of dog-leg holes and the omnipresent breeze coming in off the Ocean it will force players to use a full array of shots and every club in their bag. If the wind really does blow (as it often does each afternoon in this part of the world) then some holes can play quite long; that, coupled with closer bunkering around the greens and punishing run-off areas for wayward irons, should make this week more of a challenge for the top players with a premium on finding the greens in regulation and scrambling when putting surfaces are inevitably missed.
Tournament Stats. We've published some key player statistics for this week's ISPS Handa Perth International that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at this event: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader Stats | Top 20 Finishes.
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Winners & Prices. 2016: Louis Oosthuizen, 10/1; 2014: Thorbjorn Olesen, 40/1; 2013: Jin Jeong, 250/1; 2012: Bo Van Pelt, 7/1; For a summary of winners' odds on the European Tour for the past 6 years based on the completed 2016 schedule click here.
Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Perth is here. The tournament should enjoy warm and sunny weather with temperatures approaching 85 Fahrenheit. A breeze of 20-30 km/h is expected throughout the week and local winds often pick up each afternoon which could accentuate this further.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors.
Analysing the final stats of the past 4 winners gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:
With wide fairways averaging 40 yards across, this is a second shot golf course where maximising greens hit - and with that proximity to the hole - tends to determine who wins this event. Heavy bunkering and numerous run-off areas around the greens will severely test the short game of those players who can't find putting surfaces in the requisite number though and with a stiff breeze forecast at various points I suspect that those scrambling skills will come more to the fore this year than in previous renewals. The breeze tends to stop the scoring getting out of control and pin positions can be placed in some extremely tricky areas should organisers choose. The greens are top quality and speedy bentgrass which will allow players who can produce a high GIR week to make a fair few birdies, however that's easier said than done.
The format of this event creates a dilemma for punters as opting for those players with a decent match play record over the years is all well and good, however if they don't reach the top-24 by Saturday night then it's completely irrelevant as they're going home early. In order to stand a chance of getting a winner here we must firstly pick players who are in a lofty enough position after 54 holes to continue into the match play on Sunday, then from there they need the game to win 4 or 5 of these short-format matches.
I've opted for the outright market personally as once in position on Saturday there's little incentive for players to go all-out for the 'win' which may lead to players taking safe options to preserve their position. There's also considerable scope for players to be tied after 54 holes for either the 'win' or each-way places. Each to their own of course, however that 54 hole market isn't for me.
Bookmaker Offers: As mentioned in the preamble, you have a choice of markets this week plus some firms are offering 1/3 odds on the outright winner. New customers can also get a free £10 no deposit required bet with Sky Bet - perfect for covering off one of the favourites this week:
My selections are as follows - all in the outright market:
Defending a title is never easy given the extra commitments and pressure to perform, so Marcus Fraser's missed cut last week on a different track to his success 12 months earlier wasn't a huge surprise. The 38 year-old returns to home soil this week though and could well pick up his form that had previously seen him finish 10th in Hong Kong before Christmas where the putter was working beautifully and 3rd a fortnight ago at the Victorian PGA Championship.
18th, 15th and 15th again in the three times that the Australian has played here at Lake Karrinyup competitively is encouraging form given that he needs to repeat that again by Saturday night in order to make the final day's festivities and on those three occasions he's ranked 2nd, 5th and 3rd for scrambling which could well prove to be a critical success factor this week when we conduct the post-mortem. The 3-time European Tour winner has clearly got the measure of the greens here at Lake Karrinyup - his 3rd round 65 last year contained an incredible 20 putts in total - and with a breezy forecast we can look at some strong performances at the Olympics (finished 5th) and his 2013 Ballantine's Championship play-off defeat which both featured strong, gusty winds. Fraser embraced this format as soon as it was announced - he was the first player to confirm his appearance for this event - and if the putter is hot then he could readily knock the stuffing out of his opponents in the knockout element should he get that far. RESULT: MC
Another Australian who warrants support here given his record at Lake Karrinyup is Brett Rumford. Finishes of 27/22/36/6/19/7 in his 6 competitive outings here in Perth bode well for a top-24 finish on Saturday night and entry into the knockout stages on Sunday. 39 year-old Rumford, who lives in Perth with his family, knows this track as well as anybody and regularly uses it for his practice rounds when he's at home and has always maintained that the track with its wide fairways, smooth greens and tough scrambling suits his game down to the ground.
Like compatriot Marcus Fraser, Rumford has an excellent record in breezy conditions - indeed it was Brett who triumphed in that aforementioned Ballantine's Championship play-off in 2013 with eagle on the first extra hole - and his Irish Open win in 2004 was also played in windy conditions as it so often is in that part of the world. There's also extra incentive for Rummy to pick up a win here as he doesn't have full playing rights on the European Tour this season and would clearly prefer not to be relying on invites while he attempts to correct the situation.
Followers of Rumford's career will recall that he spent some time on the sidelines following stomach surgery in 2015 and his withdrawal from the recent BMW SA Open when going well (-7 through 36 holes) was precautionary as he was suffering from a bug, however tests were clear and his 18th place finish last week at the Victorian Open was a good warm-up for this week's main event. With his short game on point as ever at the back end of 2016 and the luxury of staying at home during rounds this week, I wouldn't be remotely surprised to see Rumford in a position to attack the knockout stages on Sunday morning where he'll have as good a chance as any to progress to the latter stages given his putting prowess. RESULT: Winner
It would be easy to call it a day with Fraser and Rumford this week given the format and potential for disappointment, however it would be nice to have some interest going into Sunday so I'll complete my team with a trio of European Tour maidens who have enough about them to contend here.
First up, Mikko Korhonen who's shown solid progression in his 3 appearances here at Lake Karinnyup finishing 51st, 15th and then 9th last year. The 36 year-old from Finland is generally a solid GIR performer (he hit 70%+ GIR for 10 consecutive events from the KLM Open last year through to the Qatar Masters last month) and the putter caught fire last week in Malaysia where he ranked 1st for both putting average (1.58) and putts per round (109 putts total) on his way to 20th place. 3rd at the Portugal Masters last autumn was his best result on the European Tour and 7th at the BMW SA Open last month was also positive, plus both were played on pure bentgrass putting surfaces. RESULT: T47
One player who's split opinions with the bookmakers this week is Jason Scrivener and the Aussie, who was born in Cape Town and moved to Zimbabwe before eventually settling in Australia, rates as a 25/1 shot with a number of bookies and 50/1 elsewhere. 19th, 28th, 15th and 3rd here at Lake Karinnyup over the years bodes well for an appearance on Sunday as does late 2016 form that saw him finish 4th at the Australian Open behind Jordan Spieth and 10th at the Hong Kong Open on the European Tour. This track clearly suits the 28 year-old's eye as he's lifted his GIR game every time he's played here ranking 4th, 17th, 1st and 6th for greens hit over his 4 appearances and another challenge is possible. RESULT: 4th
Finally I'm going to take a chance on Carlos Pigem who looks a little overpriced here at 125/1 with some bookies as short as 66/1. The Spaniard missed the cut here last year, however since then he's gained his first Asian Tour victory (2016 Yeangder Tournament Players Championship) and produced his best European Tour result to date at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek in November on the European Tour, eventually finishing 4th. The 26 year-old finished 2nd behind Todd Sinnott at the Myanmar Open on the Asian Tour a fortnight ago with the putter working nicely and produced his best GIR performance for 12 months last week in Malaysia on his way to a solid 34th place finish. RESULT: MC
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