We take a look at the European Tour's newest event, the ISPS Handa World Super Six Perth, which gets underway this Thursday.
Innovation is something that is often thwart with danger in the traditionally bound world of golf. Remember when the World Golf Championship introduced the World Match Play in 1999? The unpredictable nature of match play golf saw top seeded players eliminated early - thus incurring the ire of sponsors. And remember when the European Tour attempted to assuage fans of team golf with a tournament akin to the Ryder Cup. The Seve Trophy just reminded players of how grandiose the Ryder Cup was by comparison.
So it’s with a certain degree of trepidation that I preview the European Tour’s latest dalliance with sexing up proceedings. The ISPS Handa World Super Six replaces the ISPS Handa Perth Invitational, introducing a fairly radical new format. The 156 players will play the first two rounds in traditional stroke play, with a 36 hole cut. There will then be a further cut after 54 holes, with only the top 24 making it to the final day. The final day will consist of six-hole match play knockout matches, seemingly reminiscent of cricket’s T20 format.
To ensure that the 36 hole leaders don’t just glide robotically through the 3rd round, the top eight after round three will get an automatic berth into the second round of Match Play matches on the Sunday. Places 9 through 24 have to play the first round of matches. I’m fairly certain that mistakes will be made this week and frustrations will abound. But perhaps fans should remain patient. There is no doubt - on the European Tour in particular - that something is needed to jazz up proceedings in some of these smaller events. Just take one look at the depth of this field and you will know what I mean.
ISPS Handa World Super Six Perth | Thursday 16 February - Sunday 19 February | Lake Karrinyup Country Club
Past Winners (Stroke Play Tournament)
2016: Louis Oosthuizen (-16) | 2015: no tournament | 2014: Thorbjorn Olesen (-17) | 2013: Jim Jeong (-10)*playoff | 2012: Bo Van Pelt (-16)
To Win Outright
Alex Noren 10/1 | Louis Oosthuizen 10/1 | Thorbjorn Olesen 22/1 | Peter Uihlein 22/1 | Jordan Smith 28/1
Brett Rumford - To Win 55/1 & To Place 13/1
The Perth native will have a lot of home-grown knowledge and has had two top ten finishes in this event, including a 7th placed finish last year. The 39-year-old has limited status on the Tour, but is coming off an encouraging showing at the Oates Vic Open at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links. Rumford has been working with esteemed PGA Tour coach Gary Barter, and says that he has already noticed significant improvements in his game. One area of concern will be the fact that he hasn’t played match play golf since the World Match Play in 2013.
Sam Brazel - To Win 55/1 & To Place 13/1
This is definitely one that the odds guys have fumbled the ball on somewhat. The 38-year-old Aussie will feel comfortable playing here this week, and recently won his first event at the UBS Hong Kong Open. He also finished in a highly respectable tie for 12th in Malaysia last week. He is currently 6th in the Race to Dubai and actually cancelled playing in next week’s Joburg Open to compete here.
Tom Lewis – To Win 100/1 & To Place 25/1
With his only victory coming in the 2011 Portugal Masters, one could be forgiven for being a tad bit sceptical of this choice. But that course bears striking similarities to this one, with tree-lined fairways and narrow entries to greens. It was also not that long ago that Lewis flirted with 59 in the Made in Denmark. He finished tied for 10th in the Australian PGA Championship in December, showing his propensity for performing in Oz. He followed that up with a respectable tie for 18th at the South African Airways Open, indicating that the lost man of English golf could be due a comeback run. He looks a decent shout to place at 25/1.
The Man to Beat
Thorbjorn Olesen – To Win 22/1 & To Place 11/2
Olsen has tasted plenty of success down under, winning this championship in 2014, before winning the World Cup of Golf a few months back with compatriot Soren Kjeldsen when it was held in Melbourne. He went on to win 2015’s Alfred Dunhill Links before securing last season’s Turkish Airlines Open. I don’t think that his recent average form is necessarily a good barometer of Olesen, especially considering the relative lack of depth in the field. And at 20/1, this looks like a ridiculously long price for an established 3 time European Tour winner.