The World Cup of Golf returns to Melbourne this weekend and William Hill preview the tournament as Australia bid to defend the title last won in 2013.
The Melbourne Sandbelt will play host to the PGA Tour’s World Cup Of Gold for the 5th time but it will be a first for ‘The Heath’. Jason Day and Adam Scott are the defending champions with Day also taking out the individual competition back in 2013.
The tournament will be played as a 72-hole stroke play team event with alternate shot foursomes on Thursday and Saturday, combined with four-ball (best ball) on Friday and Sunday.
We will see 56 players from 28 countries including some of the top golfers in the world. The quality field including multiple major winners and 6 of the world’s top 20 ranked players. With a abundance of talent spread across the teams we are sure to see some top quality golf.
Kingston Heath Golf Club has been regarded as one of Australia’s best and toughest courses since it opened back in 1925. It also consistently ranks as one of the top 50 courses in the world and it should come as no surprise.
The Melbourne Sandbelt is renowned for it’s golf course and ‘The Heath’ is the crown jewel. Perfectly carved into the natural landscape the course is lined with bunkers throughout. What makes it unique though is that many of the sand areas don’t like like bunkers but rather as part of the terrain.
Dips and hollows are cleverly used to deceive even the most professional golfers and what it lacks in length it makes up in sheer difficulty. There are very few bail out areas with the rough comprising of long grass and sandy scrapes.
Wind will also be a significant factor and we will see players use a wide range of clubs for what seem to be identical shots. The par-3 15th is a classic example with players using anything from a wedge to a 6 iron depending on the direction and severity of the wind. Finally there are the greens...the players will be glad that the forecast is for cool weather because we have seen just how fast they can be in hot summer conditions. Even so, players will need to be on the right side of the hole if they are to turn pars into birdies.
The Aussie pairing of Scott and Leishman will start favourites but The Wolf is concerned about the form of one of them and it is not Leishman. Despite just two top 10’s last season he has found some early season form with a 5th place finish at the CIMB Classic before closing with 3 rounds in the 60’s for a top 25 at the OHL Classic last week. Scott’s form though has been patchy. He shot an 80 in the second round of the HSBC Champions and last week put himself out of contention with 3 rounds in the 70’s at Royal Sydney.
As a team the Americans have a combined 9 PGA Tour wins and who can forget Walker’s PGA Championship win earlier this year. Neither will have spent a lot of time along the Sandbelt but we have seen Fowler down under before with a second place finish at the Australian PGA on the Gold Coast in 2013. The pair have an abundance of experience in the team format and were part of the American Ryder Cup winning side last month. The Wolf says the conditions will not suit them and Walker’s driving can be a liability.
The Japanese bring both form and temperament with them to Melbourne. Matsuyama is arguably the form player on the tour having won the HSBC and finishing runner up at the CIMB Classic. He is the FedEx Cup leader and has partnered up with a familiar face in Ishikawa. Control and accuracy is a feature of both their games and will keep them in good stead for the alternate shot format on two of the days. Wolf’s top selection.
Spaniard Cabrella Bello and Englishman Andy Sullivan have made plenty of noise over the past 12 months but could be hindered by having a weaker partner compared to some of the other pairings. The same can be said for Russell Knox who has become an absolute star and worked his way up to 18th in the world rankings.
Those looking for value should have their eyes closely set on the Belgian duo of Colsaerts and Pieters. The Belgian bomber finished 4th in Dubai last week and has teamed up with one of the future stars in Thomas Pieters. The talent of Pieters was evident at the Ryder Cup where he earned 4 points, the first European rookie to ever do so. As a duo they have a significant edge in length that will give them to ability to shoot low – very low. Wolf’s sleeper.