Damien Kayat previews the 2022 edition of the DP World Tour’s Australian PGA Championship taking place at the Royal Queensland Golf Club in Brisbane.
DP World Tour/ ISPA Handa PGA Tour of Australasia
Fortinet Australian PGA Championship
Royal Queensland Golf Club, Brisbane, Australia
It’s kind of wild to think that we are already at the start of the second DP World Tour season. I would say that the inaugural DP World Tour was about as successful as it could have been- all things considered.
LIV Golf is certainly an existential threat to the future of this tour. But last week’s DP World Tour Championship provided a fitting conclusion to any season.
Jon Rahm’s erratic year ended in triumph as he lifted his third trophy of the year in commanding fashion. Rory McIlroy secured the Race to Dubai title and will end the season as the number-one ranked player in the world.
It was a far cry from the confusing team shenanigans that we witnessed in the LIV closer. Having said that, the dark spectre of LIV remains. Several LIV practitioners are in action this week, desperately hunting world rankings points. The tour will host duelling events this week (the Joburg Open will be played concurrently).
Australian PGA Championship
After a gap of three years, the Aussie PGA Championship once again appears on the DP World Tour. The Covid epidemic saw the event removed from the DP World Tour roster in 2020 and 2021.
The 2021 edition was absorbed into the Australasian Tour (though it was only played in January this year). This year’s event will be a co-sanctioned affair between the DP World Tour and Australasian Tour.
All eyes will be on Open Champion Cameron Smith, returning to his home nation as a recently minted Major champion. The LIV golf rebel will be a massive favourite to win his third Aussie PGA Championship.
When the Australian PGA Championship first appeared on the DP World Tour schedule it was staged at Royal Pines Golf Club. That remained the venue until 2019.
Royal Queensland took over hosting responsibilities in the post-Covid era, hosting this year’s Australasian Tour event won by Jediah Morgan.
Royal Queensland Golf Club
Royal Queensland Golf Club was opened way back in 1921. But this week’s course only came into existence in December 2007. Designed by former tour pro Mike Clayton, this more modern layout is a pretty flat parkland affair.
The fairways are bountiful and there is almost no rough to speak of. This is obviously a huge advantage for the bombers in the field. In many ways, it actually resembles a flat, desert golf track.
Its principal defences are wind and a litany of strategically placed bunkers. Players will also need to scramble well from the short grass. Expect plenty of bump and runs from in and around the greens. Bunker play and length should be key areas to take note of.
This week’s field will largely consist of a bevvy of Antipodean talent (with a few notable European exceptions). Cameron Smith will look for valuable world ranking points after his decision to join Greg Norman’s cash-driven enterprise.
Evergreen Adam Scott remains a firm favourite among golfing enthusiasts and is actually a member of this club. He won this event when it was last co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour.
Min Woo Lee and Ryan Fox are both bombers with real star appeal. Lee is an erratic competitor who can conjure occasional magic (just look at Augusta).
Ryan Fox was a bastion of consistency this year and he should love this open layout. Elsewhere, Rasmus Hojgaard is one European name that really jumps off the page. The 21-year-old is already a three-time winner and he has been flirting with contention of late.
2022: Jediah Morgan (-22) *January this year as a Australasian Tour event
2021: no event
2020: no event
2019: Adam Scott (-13)
2018: Cameron Smith (-16)
2017: Cameron Smith (-18) *playoff
To Win Outright:
Cameron Smith 15/4 | Adam Scott 9/1 | Min Woo Lee 12/1 | Ryan Fox 12/1 | Cameron Davis 14/1
Jeunghun Wang- To Win 28/1 | To Place 6/1
26-year-old Korean Jeunghun Wang certainly has one of the more interesting narratives in recent golf history. He rose to prominence with a brilliant victory at the 2014 China Masters. He then won the biggest career title at the 2017 Qatar Masters (showcasing his ability to dominate in similarly exposed conditions). But his career came to a screeching halt in late 2020, as he had to partake in compulsory 18-month national service. But his form since returning has been encouraging. He finished 22nd in Singapore in his first event back. Since then, he has been fifth on home soil and third last time out. He is an interesting sleeper (especially with that Qatar Masters performance).
Brad Kennedy- To Win 45/1 | To Place 19/2
48-year-old Brad Kennedy is certainly more of a long-shot option. He has plied his trade on the Japan Tour for most of the year, achieving consistently good results. But he actually started the year with some strong results in Australia. This included a T4 in this event (on this very course). He picked up eight top 15 finishes on the Japan Tour this year. And he also possesses a very able record in this event, with six top-20 finishes in the last twelve years. He could be a nice pick in the place markets.
The Man to Beat- Rasmus Hojgaard- To Win 14/1 | To Place 3/1
It does seem a bit ludicrous to not back an Aussie to lift this week’s title. But Rasmus Hojgaard has shown his ability to win already (winning three DP World Tour titles at age 21). He should absolutely revel in this Royal Queensland layout. It will allow him to let rip and dominate with the driver in hand. He arrives in excellent form, picking up four top 10’s in his last six starts. He has shown a slight proclivity to throw away opportunities of late (France comes to mind). But I just think he is a brilliant dark-horse option to upset the apple cart this week.