There isn’t the usual list of big name overseas players beyond two-time DP World Tour winner Min Woo Lee, but the local crop of talented veterans, youngsters and Tour regulars are prepared to take home the Joe Kirkwood Cup.

Played alongside the men’s even this week, the inaugural WPGA Championship will offer the small women’s field the chance to claim the Karrie Webb Cup, playing alongside the men from different tees and with a separate prize purse on offer.

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Last played at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, Adam Scott was the most recent winner of this title in 2019.

RIGHT: Adam Scott won't defend his title won at Royal Pines in 2019. PHOTO: Chris Hyde/Getty Images.

Scott broke a multiple year win drought when claiming the trophy, before going on to win on the PGA Tour just a few months later.

The Queenslander finished at 13-under-par for the week for his second Australian PGA win, defeating Kiwi Michael Hendry two shots and breaking Cam Smith’s dominance of the event over the previous two years.

COURSE: Royal Queensland has welcomed this event twice before at the turn of the century, but the layout the competitors will face this week is significantly different to the one Robert Allenby recorded consecutive wins on.

Bruce Grant, John Sloan and Mike Clayton took the reins to redesign what was laid out by Carnegie Clark and influenced by the great Dr. Alister MacKenzie on the banks of the Brisbane River.

The fairways are wide, but the players won’t be blindly wailing away with driver on every two and three shotter, with better angles into greens and certain pins present on every hole.

Described by multiple players as a second shot course, the greens are pushed up and playing firm and fast this week. And the bunkers are where ‘RQ’ gets its own back.

“Given the fairways are wide and there is no rough around the greens, the bunkers were made to be proper hazards,” said Clayton in this publication.

The men will play the course to a par of 71, unlike the members course playing one higher, and will measure 6,503 metres.

The "new" Royal Queensland will welcome a major professional event for the first time this week. PHOTO: PGA Tour of Australasia.
PRIZEMONEY: $1,000,000

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The obvious choice to be listed first here is Min Woo Lee and with good reason. The West Australian sits inside the top-50 of the world rankings, with Blake Windred the next best nearly 300 spots behind him.

But favourites don’t often win golf tournaments, so the engraver has hardly started on etching the Lee name on yet another piece of Aussie golf silverware.

Lee is lightly run in racing parlance since the end of 2021 and is acclimatising himself to the course he described as “quirky” on Tuesday afternoon.

Arguably the longest player in the men’s field, Lee is also a wonderful wind player which should play into his favour this week.

Also playing his trade on the DP World Tour, Maverick Antcliff is another worth casting an eye over this week.

A Brisbane local, Antcliff is not unaccustomed to winning golf tournaments having enjoyed a prolific period in China in 2019, and his strength lies in his accuracy and distance control, a terrific combination around Royal Queensland.

Min Woo Lee is rightly the favourite for the men's title this week. PHOTO: PGA Tour of Australasia.

Although the combination of COVID and a move back to Melbourne has seen Geoff Ogilvy enter into an unplanned semi-retirement, the 2006 U.S. Open winner can more than compete this week with the younger set.

Ogilvy found his best golf of the Sandbelt Invitational week on the final day and without the burden of hosting duties will be free to attempt to add a second Joe Kirkwood Cup to the mantle piece.

There is no shortage of other players with genuine title claims here this week, including Anthony Quayle, Jake McLeod and Elvis Smylie, with Jack Thompson arguably one of the hottest chances of the “lesser known” group.

Thompson claimed his first pro win just recently at the Gippsland Super 6 and has moved to the Sunshine State from South Australia, helping his cause in the grainy conditions.

Veteran Tour rules official Andrew Langford-Jones labelled Thompson as one of the most impressive prospects he has seen in a long time, a judge worth listening to.

72-HOLE RECORD: 266 (-22, Peter Lonard & Nick O'Hern 2006)

RECENT WINNERS: Adam Scott (2019), Cam Smith (2018 & 2017), Harold Varner III (2016), Nathan Holman (2015), Greg Chalmers (2014).

Round 1: Thursday (Fox Sports 503 11:30am – 4:30pm)
Round 2: Friday (Fox Sports 503 11:30am – 4:30pm)
Round 3: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 11:30am – 4:30pm)
Round 4: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 11:30am – 4:30pm)
*AEDT, check local guides