The return of local tournament golf continues for a third straight week on the PGA Tour of Australasia. The best men’s professionals in the country are headed for Moonah Links and the Vic PGA.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Kiwi Campbell Rawson claimed the title when the Victorian PGA was last played in 2019. Rawson reached a 10-under total to beat Marcus Fraser by one stroke around RACV Cape Schanck.
COURSE: The magnificent 36-hole Moonah Links and its two Top-100 ranked courses, welcomes the PGA Tour of Australasia this week. The easier Legends Course (designed by Ross Perrett) will host the opening two rounds played in a pro-am format.
Limited amateurs will progress to the weekend, when play moves to Perrett, Peter Thomson and Mike Wolveridge’s heavily bunkered Open Course, which was designed to host the Australian Open and will present a stern test for the players, particularly if the wind blows.
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
Brad Kennedy hasn’t played much tournament golf in recent times, but when he has the Queenslander has been in form and is certainly one to watch this week.
The winner last week at the inaugural The Players Series event held at Rosebud and hosted by Geoff Ogilvy, Kennedy’s last five starts over the past 12 months have netted two wins, two T3s and a 41st place on the PGA Tour.
The World No.144 is now an eight-time winner around the world and one of the very best putters when he is on, and his approach play was excellent over the weekend at Rosebud.
Former champion Aaron Pike finished strongly last week with matching weekend 68s and will be keen to keep the momentum going as the Tour heads to a tough venue that should suit his game.
RIGHT: Aaron Pike won the title in 2018 and is likely to be in the mix again this year as the Vic PGA moves to Moonah Links. PHOTO: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images.
Pike has enough length for the daunting Open Course, and with an improved mental game could well find himself in the running for a second Victorian PGA Championship this week.
New South Welshman Travis Smyth makes his first tournament start in almost a year this week, and the former amateur standout will be desperate to get in contention and rediscover the feeling of tournament golf.
Smyth was showing serious signs of promise on the Asian Tour in early 2020 before COVID struck, and with plenty of time off and opportunity to work on his game it will be interesting to see where the 26-year-old’s game is at.
Keep an eye on Michael Hendry this week after some positive signs at Rosebud last week.
The New Zealander managed two rounds of 65 to finish T14 and the ability to make plenty of birdies and with plenty of length to contend, Hendry could very well be a factor this week if he keeps the big numbers off his card.
72-HOLE RECORD: Alistair Presnell reached 22-under in 2010 to take the title at Sandhurst Golf Club, defeating Kurt Barnes and David Bransdon by one shot.
RECENT WINNERS: Campbell Rawson (2019), Aaron Pike (2018), Damien Jordan (2017), Ashley Hall (2016) and Aaron Townsend (2015).