Damien Kayat previews the 2022 edition of the DP World Tour’s ISPA HANDA Australian Open taking place at the Victoria Golf Club.
2022/2023 PGA Tour of Australasia/ DP World Tour
ISPA HANDA Australian Open
Victoria Golf Club
You must admire the sheer willpower of Cam Smith. He became arguably the most hated player in the game earlier this year. He beat fan darling Rory McIlroy at the Open Championship only to jump ship to LIV in a matter of weeks.
But the World No.3 has rolled with the punches, picking up his fifth win of the year at the Australian PGA Championship. And he will go out to further cement his fragile world ranking position with some more points at the Australian Open.
First staged in 1904, this will be the 105th instalment of this storied national open. It used to be a premium international event, with Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus holding 13 titles between them.
But it obviously faded in relevance as the US PGA Tour started to hold sway over world golf. But this year’s event is a significant one. Firstly, this will be the first time that the Australian Open has been co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour.
Secondly, this year’s event will host the men and women concurrently, with both sets of players competing for the same purse.
Victoria Golf Club/Kingston Heath Golf Club
The men and women will alternate between two courses for the first two days: Victoria Golf Club and Kingston Heath Golf Club. Victoria Golf Club will then play host to the final 36 holes.
Both courses have seen their fair share of Australian Open action. Kingston Heath Golf Club has held seven opens while Victoria has hosted three. Both layouts are relatively small by modern standards.
Both courses seem to have a combination of links and parkland characteristics. Victoria underwent a huge overhaul in 2018, with the entire green complexes changed to Bentgrass. Cam Smith likened both tests to Augusta National, with plenty of strategic bunkering and plentiful greenside runoff areas.
I will then apply a similar appraisal this week to that of Augusta. Favour distance slightly over accuracy. And look for guys with brilliant scrambling skills.
It would be disingenuous of me to offer real insight into the women’s markets. Suffice it to say, I do think it’s exciting that the tours are starting to realize the growth potential in showcasing the women’s game.
Cam Smith is an obvious favourite to lift his maiden Stonehaven Cup. These courses fit him like a glove and it will take a brave man to utterly discount him. This week’s field is pretty much identical to last week.
Adam Scott disappointed at Royal Queensland and will be desperate to make amends this week. Min Woo Lee just couldn’t quite get things going in his final round last week. But he will also feel extremely confident of dismantling these courses.
Elsewhere, the likes of Jason Scrivener and Cameron Davies could offer value this week.
2021: event cancelled
2020: event cancelled
2019: Matt Jones (-15)
2018: Abraham Ancer (-16)
2017: Cameron Davies (-11)
2016: Jordan Spieth (-12) *playoff
Betting Favourites (To Win): Cameron Smith (5/2), Adam Scott (10/1), Min Woo Lee (10/1), Cameron Davies (11/1), Marc Leishman (16/1)
David Micheluzzi- To Win 50/1 | To Place 11/1
David Micheluzzi came within a whisker of placing last week, ultimately having to settle for 6th place. But I think that the 26-year-old looks primed to compete this week once again. He only played in one DP World Tour event last season (finishing in a tie for 36th at the Alfred Dunhill Links). But he has been a bastion of consistency on the PGA Tour of Australia this year, picking up 14 top 25’s, 9 top 10’s and a win. He looks like exceptional value to place at 11/1.
The Man to Beat- Cameron Davies- To Win 11/1 | To Place 24/10
I know, I know. Why the other Cam? Firstly, 5/2 is still a crazy price for someone to win back-to-back (even Cam Smith). Cam Davies won this trophy in 2017, closing with a spectacular 64 to clinch the title. He then went on to a positive Korn Ferry spell before claiming his maiden PGA Tour title at last year’s Rocket Mortgage Classic. He also has a fondness for this week’s chief venue, winning the Victoria Amateur Championship at Victoria Golf Club. He looked rusty last week but shot rounds of 66 and 68 on the weekend to finish seventh. Well worth your time at 11/1.