By Michael McGill

This week we head to the PGA Tour of Australasia for the Australian Masters being played on the Kingston Heath golf course which is located in the renowned sandbelt region of Melbourne, Victoria.

The Australian Masters was established in 1979 and over the years has been won by many top class players such as 6 time Champion Greg Norman, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Mark O’Meara and Ian Baker Finch.

Most recent winners have been Ian Poulter (2011), Stuart Appleby (2010), Tiger Woods (2009), Rod Pampling (2008), Aaron Baddeley (2007) and Justin Rose (2006).

Kingston Heath GC is one of Australia’s best and regularly ranks inside the Top 30 courses in the World. It is a Par 72 measuring 6866 yards with 128 bunkers. The greens are bentgrass.

It is a compact course built on 50 hectares while most modern courses are spread over 100 hectares.

The course has many dips and hallows that will fool even the most experienced players. The rough will test every player in the field as they will need to contend with the long grass and extensive tea tree which makes it almost impossible to get your ball back into play.

What sets the course apart from most is the bunkers. They are all strategically placed either on the fairway or around the greens.

The closing holes are also a real test which will see the wheels fall off several players. They include a Par 5 and three long Par 4’s. The leader board will see some big changes late in the day. Sunday will make for great viewing and lots of nail biting if your player is up there in contention.

Shot making will be imperative at Kingston Heath. Being able to plot your way around the course strategically and play the conditions well will be a distinct advantage. Having past experience will also help.

The Top 10 in betting this week to claim the Gold Jacket are:-

Adam Scott $4.33, Ian Poulter 4/1, Graeme McDowell 8/1, Stuart Appleby 16/1, Richard Green 16/1, Alistair Presnell 20/1, Robert Allenby 20/1, Oliver Goss 33/1, Michael Hendry 40/1 and Peter Senior 40/1.

So who is expected to go well this week? Lets have a look at our selections.

Ian Poulter 4/1

Yes, the World No.16 is a short price this week however look at the field!

Apart from Adam Scott (No.5) and Graeme McDowell (No.24) the next highest ranked player is Robert Allenby at number 164.

Look at his season. 15 starts on the PGA Tour for 15 cuts made. Four Top 10’s and a Win.

That win was two weeks ago at the WGC HSBC Champions. The week prior he was 4th in the BMW Masters in China.

September saw Ian finish T12th in the BMW Championship which was followed by the Ryder Cup at the end of the month where he scored the most points in Europe’s win.

Kingston Heath will be a challenge however his short game should hold him in good stead. He is ranked 23rd in sand saves on the PGA Tour and 2nd in Scrambling.

His current form will have him brimming with confidence to defend his Australian Masters title. No doubt he will be retweeting his famous line from last year “Winner winner Chicken Dinner”.

Mark Brown 80/1

2008 was a break through year for Mark. He won back to back titles on the Asian Tour.

First it was the SAIL Open Golf Championship where he won by 4 strokes from Scott Hend, Noh Seung-Yul and Jyoti Randhawa. That was followed up with victory at the Johnnie Walker Classic where he beat Greg Chalmers and Scott Strange.

Fast forward to 2012 and he has played in 13 events. It is the last five tournaments that are worth looking at a little closer.

It started with a 6th place in the Thailand Open which was won by Chris Wood. Then it was on to the High1 Resort Open where he was T29th.

Next was the China Masters where he finished 11th. Players to finish above him included Louis Oosthuizen, Y.E Yang and winner Liang Wen Chong.

The Perth International was next and Brown finished in a tie for 15th behind the winner Bo Van Pelt, Jason Dufner and Alejandro Canizares.

A week later it was a tie for 30th in the Western Australian Open Championship.

With a form line of 6-29-11-15-30 it makes the 80/1 on offer a good each bet in a tournament that is on par with the past five events he has contested.

Scott Laycock 80/1

Scott is a Melbourne local and won the 2001 Victorian Open where he still holds the tournament record.

He finished in a tie for 21st at the 2009 Australian Masters which was played at the Kingston Heath course.

It is his last three starts that has caught the eye this week.

T8th at the China Masters, T13th Perth International and T13th Western Australian Open Championship.

Three good tournaments that have him in good shape ready to play at a course where he has plenty of experience growing up on the sand belts of Melbourne.

Keep a close eye on Scott this week.

Aaron Townsend 50/1

Aussie boy Aaron turned pro in 2003.

He won the qualifying for the 2012 British Open and got to tee it up at Royal Lytham & St Anne’s Golf Club. Townsend went on to miss the cut however the experience is one he is sure to remember for a long time.

It is his last four starts that has put him on the radar for this week.

T6th at the High1 Resort Open, T5th South Pacific Golf Open, 3rd China Masters and T19th Perth International.

Those numbers look pretty good coming into this event. 6-5-3-19.

Aaron is sure to be up there  challenging at some point over the weekend.


Good Luck and Good Punting.

Folloer on twitter-  @MickSportsNews


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