Former world long-drive champion Jamie Sadlowski will provide the sizzle at this week’s New South Wales Open while host venue Stonecutters Ridge Golf Club brings the substance.
The western Sydney course’s third consecutive staging of the NSW Open stands to be its best yet with a strong field and a vastly inflated prizemoney purse – now $400,000. It’s also better aligned with the Sydney-domiciled Australian Open next week, giving players far greater reason to spend a fortnight in the harbour city.
Canadian Sadlowski (pictured above) is in the field for both Opens, however the Stonecutters Ridge course will give him far more opportunity to let fly with the driver than Royal Sydney will. Reachable par-5s and short par-4s characterise the Greg Norman/Bob Harrison-designed course, which is now four years old. Under favourable conditions, Sadlowski can expect as many as six eagle putts per round – if he’s accurate.
And that’s a fairly significant ‘if’, too, as his supreme length will be handcuffed if there’s not a healthy dose of accuracy thrown in. The green complexes at Stonecutters Ridge are not always best attacked from close range, negating many long blows that stray off target.
Owning a personal-best drive of 407 metres, 28-year-old Sadlowski captured the 2008 and 2009 World Long Drive Championships but these days is trying his hand at the life of a tour player. He, too, acknowledges that he’ll need to be sharp with more than just one club in the bag at the NSW Open.
“In long drive you get six balls and all you have to do is hit one long and straight,” he said. “With golf you need to get it in the hole and there are so many elements that make it difficult, so it’s been a big change.
“In long drive you get six balls and all you have to do is hit one long and straight. With golf you need to get it in the hole and there are so many elements that make it difficult, so it’s been a big change." Jamie Sadlowski
“When I have to chase the ball down and hit it again I want to hit it straight, so that is something I have been focusing on. I have shortened my golf swing. I am obviously still going to hit it far – I hit every club a long way – but it’s a lot more strategy. I still need to use my length to my advantage and not hit 5-iron off every tee box. I don’t want to get into a wedge competition with the wedge players in the world or the best putters. I need to use my advantage and if I can sharpen up all my other skills then I like my chances.
“I am not new to the game; I have been playing my whole life. To say there are big blemishes in my game I would disagree with,” added Sadlowski, who will play the first two rounds alongside Lincoln Tighe, arguably the PGA Tour of Australasia’s longest hitter. “Is it as sharp as I would like it to be? Probably not. I haven’t been doing this for a living every day like these guys, but I am getting better at it and hopefully when it all comes together the end result is winning some golf tournaments.
“I have a big advantage. [Stonecutters Ridge] is wide open; there are a lot of holes where I can hit it as hard as I want. Obviously there are places where you can’t hit it. I drove it well today. The way I play here, if I drive it well I will play well. Length will be a big advantage.”
The Canadian is far from the only significant player in the field. Veterans Peter Senior, Robert Allenby, Peter Lonard, Nick O’Hern, Nathan Green, Peter Fowler, Craig Parry, Stephen Leaney and Peter O’Malley are all in western Sydney, along with rising stars Rhein Gibson, Todd Sinnott, Lucas Herbert, Jarryd Felton, Jake Higginbottom and more. Ever-popular Jarrod Lyle is another teeing it up as the NSW Open looks to emerge from the shadows of the national championship and forge its own fine reputation once again.