Hyatt Coolum is a typical Aussie course in many ways with firm and fast greens that are hard to hold and a general emphasis on long game accuracy is required. However, while wind is a big factor on some holes, it’s nowhere near as much of an issue as last week and that vastly improves Ogilvy’s chance. Multiple winners of this event are commonplace, (Allenby and Peter Lonard have three apiece this century), so 10/1 about Ogilvy defending successfully seems perfectly fair.
I earmarked MICHAEL SIM for this title several months ago, and nothing has happened over the past few weeks to change that opinion. Given his fast rising profile in the States, it stands to reason that Sim will win a few of these homeland events over time, but there was enough of a doubt concerning his suitability on a links course to overlook his chance last week. Sixth was a fine effort at Sydney, and I suspect better is to come. After all, he finished third in this event two years ago, and has vastly improved since.
Once again, NICK O’HERN must be backed each-way. Sunday’s tie for third was Nick’s eighth top three in his last 11 Australian starts, which represents quite remarkable consistency. Furthermore, Coolum must be O’Hern’s favourite course in the world, as it’s the only place he’s ever won. It can’t be a coincidence that both of his professional victories came here, most recently in the 2006 PGA, and he also made the top four in 2004 and 2005.
For the final two places in the staking plan, it was very hard to separate three players, ROD PAMPLING, JAMES NITTIES and John Senden. The former has let me down in both previous weeks, but has still played well enough to warrant retention at 20/1. Pampling blew all realistic chance of winning either tournament by falling behind on the first day, but fought back well on both occasions. His US form is as good as almost any of these, and he has no worries with the course having reached the top three in three of the last five years.
Nitties is another who has been on my radar for this event for some time. He’s just enjoyed by far his best season to date after gaining his PGA Tour Card, and was right in the thick of it throughout the Masters and Open. The only doubt concerns his temperament, as the 27 year-old has yet to win a professional event. At both the Masters and the subsequent NSW Open, he looked very dodgy under pressure. Nevertheless, such things are standard for a young golfer and as far as recent form goes, his case is as sound as anyone’s. Crucially, as Nitties finished runner-up on this course as a rookie back in 2004, we know he has the tools to cope with Coolum.
Senden is therefore reluctantly overlooked. Going into the triple crown, I had high hopes for Senden who had been in excellent form on the PGA Tour. However, his performances so far have been pretty poor, and suggest to me that Senden is another who struggles when the wind gets up. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he bounced back here though, as Coolum has proven a favourable venue in the past. He’s made the top six four times previously.