Choosing between the other main candidates is quite a random affair. Rod Pampling is the form man, with 1st and 3rd places over the last fortnight. He has a decent Open record, and would have been a selection were it not for the fact that he played well below par on both previous outings at Royal Sydney. In 2006, Pampling arrived here on the back of some excellent PGA Tour form only to struggle with three scores of 73 or worse.
I doubt either JOHN SENDEN or Tim Clark will be too far away on Sunday. given the emphasis on tee to green accuracy. Slight preference is for the former, as he won the last Open held on this course. As I’ve regularly argued before PGA Tour events, whenever relentless tee to green accuracy is the key, Senden must enter calculations. A fast finishing 6th place at Coolum was the perfect preparation.
As RICHARD GREEN was returning to vastly different home conditions just a few days after a strong bid in the World Cup, he can easily be forgiven a slow start at Coolum. He’s never done anything much there anyway, so 28th place with his best round saved for last is no disgrace. The Open, which places a greater emphasis on solid par golf than birdie-chasing, is always likely to better suit the accurate left-hander. And based on his World Cup form, or his previous 7th place in the Volvo Masters, Green looks a strong contender at a fair each-way price.
In contrast, Green’s team-mate in China, Brendan Jones, is easily overlooked on the basis of a poor record in this event. Nathan Green is another whose better efforts have come elsewhere, with just one top-10 in eleven tries. Marcus Fraser, impressive when runner-up at Huntingdale last time, has a best of 19th in six Opens. Similarly, Sunday’s runner-up Matt Goggin has only one decent Open from eight attempts, and finished well back on this course two years ago.
The most interesting runner in the field is DARREN CLARKE, who is making a surprisingly long round-trip to play in the Australian and South African Opens over the next fortnight. Its all part of a bid to regain his position in the top-50 in the world, confirming that Clarke has genuinely rediscovered his love for the game. There’s every reason to think he’ll succeed, based on a brilliant comeback last summer which produced two titles and perhaps deserved a Ryder Cup call-up. Furthermore, Clarke has always been at his best on links courses, so we know he has the right set of skills to prosper in Sydney.
7pts win GEOFF OGILVY @ 13/2 (GENERAL, 7/1 SKYBET)
3pts ew STUART APPLEBY @ 14/1 (GENERAL)
2.5pts ew JOHN SENDEN @ 18/1 (STAN JAMES, TOTE)
1.5pts ew RICHARD GREEN @ 30/1 (CANBET, CENTREBET, SKYBET)
1.5pts ew DARREN CLARKE @ 33/1 (TOTE, VCBET)
LONG-TERM ALREADY ADVISED
RACE TO DUBAI
2.5pts ew ROSS FISHER @ 20/1
2.5pts ew PAUL CASEY @ 20/1
2009 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
5pts ew SERGIO GARCIA @ 16/1
2008/2009 STATS: -50pts
2007/2008 STATS: +618pts