In a rare situation for PGA Tour of Australasia players, many of this week’s Queensland PGA competitors will be sleeping in the same bed as last week when playing in the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship.
Played not far away at Nudgee Golf Club, the field the first to put the newly redesigned The Kurrai course through its paces in tournament play.
A strong field will tee it up as the Summer of Golf continues around the country, with many of those who put their names up in lights last week at Royal Queensland teeing it up this week.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Last played in 2020, Scottish born, Queensland resident (via Western Australia) Michael Sim took home the title at City Golf Club in Toowoomba.
Sim defeated Scott Arnold in a play-off after the pair both finished 72-holes with a total of 12-under-par.
RIGHT: Last week's Australian PGA champion Jed Morgan is well and truly one of the players to watch this week. PHOTO: Chris Hyde/Getty Images; Above: Kurtogram.
A four-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour, Sim’s victory completed the Queensland double, having won the state Open in 2017, and added his name to an honour roll including the likes of Greg Norman, Ian Baker-Finch and Peter Fowler.
COURSE: For the majority of the field, this week will offer a first look at Nudgee Golf Club’s Kurrai Course that has undergone a dramatic face lift with course designer James Wilcher transforming the layout. Wilcher’s masterplan for the property set to see another 18-holes known as The Bulka in the future.
Recently reviewed in the December issue of Golf Australia Magazine, Nudgee is almost unrecognisable from its former self, with the fairly flat piece of land transformed to possess humps and hollows, occasional elevated greens featuring far more pin positions and challenging breaks.
Described by former Tour pro turned professional at this week’s host venue Matt Guyatt as “Melbourne style golf in Brisbane”, the new layout includes increased influence from water hazards and bunkering that will challenge even the quality of player in the field this week.
Still settling in, the TifEagle greens and wintergreen couch fairways will be an interesting element to keep an eye on this week, while the par-72 will tip out at 6,453 metres for the week.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The man at the top of this list should come as absolutely no surprise after the events of last week at Royal Queensland.
Club member Jed Morgan laid waste to the rest of the field and numerous tournament records on his way to victory at the Australian PGA.
Morgan will of course have celebrated the career altering victory well, and fatigue will be a factor, not to mention no longer possessing a significant course knowledge advantage, but he is clearly in fantastic form and his confidence will be sky high as he continues the pursuit of winning his home circuit Order of Merit.
After claiming most of the attention in round one at ‘RQ’, Louis Dobbelaar would have been fairly pleased with his week and third place despite, like the rest of field, finishing so far behind fellow Aussie Amateur winner Morgan.
The Brookwater member is still learning the ropes in the pro ranks, but after a tremendous amateur career there are high hopes for the powerful young player. Like Morgan, Dobbelaar displayed some excellent form in the PGA, and will be keen to get more runs on the board at home before he departs for the PGA Tour’s Latino America circuit in the coming months.
Jack Thompson is another of the young players earning plenty of attention having joined the play-for-pay game, and deservedly so after his win at the Gippsland Super 6.
Formerly of South Australia, Thompson is now a Queenslander, at least according to the PGA’s website, and if not for a fairly pedestrian 72 on Saturday last week, looked likely to record a higher finish than his eventual T12.
Of the home hopes, Guyatt deserves a mention as a player who had success playing around Asia and locally before turning to the vocational aspect of the profession. He will know the course better than anyone in the field, which as Morgan showed last week has its advantages, and will be keen to show some form after missing last week with COVID.
Elvis Smylie also has a long connection with Nudgee, and although having only played the layout once since its update before this week, Smylie will have plenty of support during the event, and would have been keen for the PGA to continue another couple of rounds after closing with 67 to share 12th.
Also finishing with a 67 last week to record a T6, it would be remiss to not make mention of Aaron Pike in this section. Pike made it clear to this previewer last week the mistake of not including him at a course he knows so well. And while his knowledge of Nudgee is not the same, bar a third round 74, Pike’s play was extremely impressive at Royal Queensland and a challenge for a third PGA Tour of Australasia title this week would not surprise.
72-HOLE RECORD: 254, (Brad Kennedy, 2013).
RECENT WINNERS: Michael Sim (2020), Daniel Nisbet (2019), Daniel Fox (2018), Daniel Pearce (2017), David Klein (2016).