Lake Karrinyup – a battle for survival

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American raiders Dustin Johnson and Bo van Pelt, the defending champion, have attracted a fair amount of attention heading into this week’s European Tour stop in Perth, Australia.

This is certainly the case in so far as the bookmakers are concerned.

Big hitter Johnson, ranked No 21 in the World and a winner on the US PGA Tour this year, is the bookies favourite at 13/2 to win this week’s ISPS Handa Perth International at Lake Karrinyup Country Club while Van Pelt, the World No 44, is in 4th spot at 14/1 behind Johnson, and the English Ryder Cup duo of Paul Casey (10/1) and Ross Fisher (12/1).

Trailing them are home favourites Brett Rumford, a multiple 2013 Tour winner who is at 22/1 and is set to tee-off in the first round on Thursday with Johnson and Van Pelt, and fellow Aussie Marcus Fraser who is at 25/1 along with South African Branden Grace. a four-time winner on the Tour last year, but still seeking his first win this year.

Grace in paired with Casey and Australian Matthew Goggin for the first two rounds while Fraser will be playing alongside fellow Aussie Peter O’Mally and Fisher.

Another Australian, left-hander Nick O’Hern is the next favourite at 33/1 followed by Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen and England’s Danny Willett at 40/1

But at the end of the day on Sunday the battle for the Perth title may not be as critical as the battle for survival among those players grouped around the surface of the bubble that after this, the last of the 2013 Tour’s regular Tour events, will hold those 110 Tour players who will qualify to retain their European Tour cards for next year.

Everyone on the outside of the bubble will have to head back to the dreaded European Tour School – or maybe find a lesser Tour to join.

There are still four more tournaments on the European Tour schedule – The BMW Masters and WGC-HSBC Champions in China, the new Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya and the season’s grand finale, the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai – but these are all part of the ‘Final Series’ which kicks off with a limited field of 110 before it is pruned down to just the Tour’s top 60 players for the World Tour Championship.

For men like England’s Richard Bland, currently 109th in the Race to Dubai standings, South African James Kingston (111th), Irelands Peter Lawrie (114th) and David Higgins (115th), a sterling performance then in mineral-rich West Australia this week is a must

They and a group of others that include the likes of Englishmen Oliver Fisher (122nd) and James Morrison (138th) and Swede Joel Sjöholm (150th) will all be gunning to earn enough from the lucrative prize fund of two million US Dollars to at least oust Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar, the current holder of that critical 110th spot.

And the fight for survival doesn’t end at the 110th spot.

Further up the table the jostle to be one of those 60 fortune players who will make it though to the lucrative Dubai World Tour Championship final will also start in earnest with men like England’s Ross Fisher in 65th place, Danny Willett (70th) and last week’s South African surprise package, Justin Walters, whose second place in Portugal rocketed him from 126th to 71st place, all looking to at least initiate moves up the table.

With all this desperation and stress in the air this week, anything is possible, but when it comes down to cold, hard facts, Johnson might well be the man to beat. It’s not for nothing that he is the highest world-ranked player in the field.

THE BOOKIES TOP 20 FAVOURITES

Here were the top 20 favourites being quoted by Sky Bet on Tuesday morning. For all the bookmakers odds you should go to Oddschecker.com.
Dustin Johnson 13/2
Paul Casey 10/1
Ross Fisher 12/1
Bo Van Pelt 14/1
Brett Rumford 22/1
Branden Grace 25/1
Marcus Fraser 25/1
Nick O Hern 33/1
Soren Kjeldsen 40/1
Danny Willett 40/1
Gregory Havret 45/1
Mathew Goggin 50/1
Scott Laycock 50/1
James Nitties 50/1
Wade Ormsby 50/1
Nick Cullen 50/1
Fredrik Andersson Hed 66/1
Mikko Korhonen 66/1
Nathan Holman 66/1
Peter Lonard 66/1
Chris Doak 66/1.

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