RICHARD GREEN finished third behind Baddeley in 2000, which is hardly surprising given the left-hander’s relentless accuracy. Again, Green is a former winner of this event back in 2004, and the best of his form on this year’s European Tour would also bring him into the argument. Four top 10s from his last 11 starts is a decent return, and this accuracy test looks more favourable than usual.
If those four were straightforward selections, determining the final couple of places in the staking plan was much less so. Matthew Goggin has rock-solid claims on his best form, but finished the season poorly in the States. Equally, for all his obvious class, Stuart Appleby’s 2009 form has been abysmal but like Baddeley, I have a slight suspicion he could improve over the winter back in dry, firm conditions. Marc Leishman enjoyed a decent season in the States, but has rarely thrived on home soil, leaving the impression that he is one of those Australians who improves when overseas; such as Adam Scott, Brendan Jones or Scott Strange. US raider Jason Dufner makes little appeal on a course that will be very different from the types he’s used to.
Having decided to oppose that lot, the next choice was a tough call between James Nitties and GREG CHALMERS, with the latter’s greater experience winning the day. Nitties has looked a promising recruit to the PGA Tour this year, challenging a few times in the early part of the season. He’s had his moments on home soil, but has yet to really thrive on one of these classic old courses.
Alternatively, left-hander Chalmers has a wealth of experience in such conditions and has enjoyed his best US season for some time with six top 20s including two top 10s, the best of which was second in the Buick Open. That points towards a return of the good form shown in Australia between 2004 and 2007; a period during which Chalmers registered four top-four finishes and only missed the top 20 three times out of 13.
Last year’s runner-up Marcus Fraser would obviously have claims if repeating that level of form, though that effort was a rare success in his homeland. Sunday’s Queensland Open winner Stephen Bowditch must come into it on that basis, and its also interesting that he finished seventh on this course back in 2000. The man who finished fourth that year, Scott Laycock, could threaten the places at huge odds. Hailing from Melbourne, Laycock has plenty of local knowledge and finished fourth on his penultimate start. Obviously, such Australasian Tour form is several grades weaker than this, but its worth remembering that Laycock finished third in the much higher class Australian PGA only two years ago.
2.5pts ew JOHN SENDEN @ 22/1 (BOYLESPORTS, 25/1 SPORTINGBET, EXPEKT)
2pts ew AARON BADDELEY @ 25/1 (GENERAL)
2pts ew ROD PAMPLING @ 28/1 (STAN JAMES, CORALS, 33/1 LADBROKES)
1.5pts ew RICHARD GREEN @ 35/1 (BOYLESPORTS, SKYBET, STAN JAMES, SPORTINGBET)
1pt ew GREG CHALMERS @ 66/1 (SPORTINGBET, HILLS)
0.5pt ew SCOTT LAYCOCK @ 200/1 (TOTE, BLUESQ)
LONG-TERM ALREADY ADVISED
RACE TO DUBAI
2.5pts ew ROSS FISHER @ 20/1
2.5pts ew PAUL CASEY @ 20/1
6pts win PAUL CASEY @ 8/1
1.5pts ew OLIVER WILSON @ 33/1
2008/2009 STATS: -229pts
2007/2008 STATS: +618pts