Australian Open Inside Track

Features

Our man Down Under, Harry Emanuel, brings you the lowdown on this week’s Australian Open in Sydney.

The Australian Open Presented by Century 21

Course: The Lakes Golf Club
Location: Sydney, Australia
Since: 1904
Yardage: 6,841
Par: 72
Tournament Record: 264 (-28) Gray Player 1965
Field: 156
Cut: After 36 holes Top 70 plus ties
Tee Off: 20:00 Wednesday BST

Overview

The Australian Open is one of Australia’s leading golf tournaments and the roll of honour includes such greats as Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Tom Watson and current world number one Lee Westwood. The first event took place back in 1904 at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

The 2010 Australian Open will be played at the redesigned Lakes Golf Club in Sydney. The Lakes has hosted three Australian Opens (1964, 1980 and 1992), the 1987 Australian PGA Championship and a host of other tournaments including five Greg Norman Holden Internationals (1993, 1995, 1999-2001).

The tournament is well supported by the top Australian Players with Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Aaron Baddeley, John Senden, Nick O’Hern, Michael Sim, Rod Pampling and Greg Norman in attendance. There are also 50 players from the OneAsia Tour in a full field of 156 competitors.

Last Time Out

At NSW Golf Club in 2009 Adam Scott claimed his first Australian Open title and his first ever professional Australian title.

Despite opening with rounds of 68-66 Scott still found himself two shots behind halfway leader Stuart Appleby but an excellent four under par gave him a two stroke lead going into the final round.

A level par 72 was good enough for a five stroke victory over Appleby who was four shots clear of the rest of the field.

Course

The Lakes Golf Club is a par 72 course that plays 6,841 yards from the Championship Tees. The course has undergone a complete transformation after a redesign by Mike Clayton.

Many of the trees have been replaced by a sandy wasteland and the fairways have been widened giving the course a ‘links style’ feel. The greens are all new and have more undulations than any other Sydney course.

There are lots of risk reward holes including three reachable par fives and six par fours which play less than 400 yards. There is water in play on 10 holes.

Heavy rain in the 24 hours leading up to the tournament has left the course playing soft despite its sand base.

Fairways

On the front nine many of the trees have been replaced with sandy wastelands which are in play off the tee. The back nine meanders around the lake and water is in play on six of the holes.

The fairways are generous in width but the water and sandy wastelands place an emphasis on accuracy. It is also a test of strategy as players will need to be on the correct side of the fairway to create the best angles to attack the undulating greens.

The fairways are soft so players can be more aggressive this week. The course will also play longer than its 6,831 yardage as the ball is not rolling out on the fairways. Lift clean and place will probably be in operation for the first two days of the tournament.

Greens

The new greens are severely undulating and protected by bunkers, run off areas or water.

As with all new greens which take a couple of years to bed in the first bounce can be unpredictable. Putting will also be tricky as the borrow on the undulating greens will not be as severe as the players expect until the greens have fully settled.

The greens are soft so players will be able to fire at the pins. Many of the pins will be in high spots so players will need to be accurate with their irons or face some long slopey putts. They are expected to run at 9-10 on the stimpmeter.

They said

“It’s a test of strategy and when it’s firm you have to think about every shot. I’ve never seen weather like this. These conditions level off a lot of things. It’s designed to make you think but as it’s not firm placement is not critical.” – Stuart Appleby.

“It is a totally different looking golf course. Playability-wise, it looks like it would play a little easier for the pros. It looks like it is a little wider. It is not as intimidating off the tee. The severity of the greens is going to be exaggerated by the speed, if they get them really quick, they are going to be very difficult to putt on.” – Greg Norman

“If the wind and rain persists, we are going to have to play some pretty smart golf. The greens are quite undulating and tricky. That is going to make it a challenge for all of us. We will be into that kind of smart golf this week.” – Adam Scott

Horses for Courses

Aaron Baddeley won the 2001 Greg Norman Holden Invitational at the Lakes. He also won the Australian Open as an Amateur at Royal Sydney in 1999 and retained the title as a professional the following year at Kingston Heath.

Craig Parry is also a Greg Norman Holden winner (1995) and Australian Open winner (2007). Greg Norman, winner of five Australian Opens, is the only player in the field who has won an Australian Open at the Lakes (1980).

Other Open Champions in the field include Adam Scott, Robert Allenby, John Senden, Greg Chalmers, Stuart Appleby, Peter Senior and Steve Allan.

Finishing Holes

The Lakes has a fairly unique stretch of finishing holes with a tricky dogleg par four, a short par five and a long par three.

On the 17th players hit to an island fairway before attacking a green flanked by water on the left. At less than 500 yards there should be plenty of eagles but any mistakes could prove extremely costly.

The 208 yards par three is a very tough finishing hole. The long green is exposed and well protected by bunkers. Par is a good score and the 18th could be pivotal in the outcome of the tournament.

Weather

Heavy rain led to the cancellation of the Pro-Am as a few of the greens became unplayable. Wet and windy conditions are forecast for the week with winds on Thursday in excess of 20mph.

Due to the high water table the course is struggling to drain off the excess water. There could well be some disruption to the tournament schedule although Tournament Director Trevor Herden is confident play will finish on time.

Conclusion

The course may not be long by modern standards but it has been cleverly redesigned and is a solid test of strategy demanding placement off the tee, accurate iron play and a steady putting stroke on severely undulating greens.

Unfortunately heavy rain has left the course playing soft and negated much of the strategy. Players will be aggressive and attack the course and there should be some low scores.

Given the wet windy conditions experienced players with experienced caddies should come to the fore.

Latest