by Josh Cassap, Golf Manager
Huntingdale Golf Club, Melbourne — Par 71.
The Australian Masters returns to Huntingdale for the first time since 2008, with a fresh layout and a refurbished clubhouse after $15 million in renovations.
It’s not a very long golf course but the greens will be lightning quick, which will make it tough for players who don’t strategically put their ball in the right spots.
Thursday 19 — Sunday 22 November 2015
WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR
Nick Cullen was the surprise victor of the Australian Masters in 2014. He held his nerve and made a sand save par on the last to stay at nine-under and seal the win. Unfortunately due to schedule issues Cullen is unable to defend his title at Huntingdale this weekend. Instead he continues his quest to earn a European Tour card in six qualifying school events.
TOP CONTENDERS THIS YEAR
Scott won the event in 2012 and 2013 but missed out on back-to-back-to-back yellow jackets by a single stroke last year, as Nick Cullen took the spoils. But this year Scott is the face of the tournament in Cullen’s absence and he’s also the hot favourite to take it out.
No doubt the only thing that will stand in the way of an Adam Scott victory will be how he adapts to the slick Huntingdale Golf Club greens and using the short putter.
The Queenslander was among the contenders last year, taking the clubhouse lead after day one before falling to 17th place. This year at Huntingdale, Bowditch is flaunting a fitter version of himself. Having lost 16 kilograms, he’s now in the best shape of his professional golfing career and it’s paying dividends.
A member of the Ryder Cup European team that beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the thrilling ‘Miracle at Medinah’, Colsaerts is a big-time player, and a major addition to the Australian Masters line-up. He’s finished in the top 10 in majors (US Open, British Open) and won events on the European tour. His experience will serve him well on Australian soil where he is set to stay to contest the Open too.
A familiar face when the triple-crown rolls around, expect to see Senden in the mix at the Australian Masters on Sunday, as he has in years past. A two-time winner on the PGA Tour and winner of the Australian Open (2006), you can count on Senden thrilling home crowds during the summer of golf. Despite a hectic schedule in the last few months, the Queenslander should be ready to go, alongside new bag-carrier and Karrie Webb’s ex-caddie, Mike Patterson.
He’s only been a professional for two years, but Smith is an exciting emerging talent worth keeping an eye on. A huge year saw him finish fourth at the US Open and 25th at the PGA Championship, securing him a berth at the US Masters in April, and a chance to play on the tour for the rest of the year. With some good form last year on the Australasian PGA Tour, don’t be surprised if the 22-year-old’s name pops up on the leaderboard at Huntingdale.