By Michael McGill

The Emirates Australian Open is the main event on the Australasian PGA Tour. Many big names have won this tournament since it was first played back in 1904.

Players such as Gary Player (7 wins), Jack Nicklaus (6 wins) and Greg Norman (5 wins) have all lifted the Stonehaven Cup along with recent winners Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy and Defending Champ Greg Chalmers.

The tournament is being played at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney for the third year running. It is a Par 72 course measuring 6938 yards.

It is a real shot makers course with many strategic options available to the players. Keeping the ball straight and in play will be the key this week as the course is surrounded by water and sand.

The front nine feels as though you are playing right on the beach due to the amount of sand you have to contend with while the back nine is like playing on a course surrounded by water. You feel like you are playing two different courses.

Players will also need to watch out for the north-easterly winds that can really throw the cat amongst the pigeons. Keep an eye out for the Par 5 11th which has a lake hugging the entire left hand side of the hole.

Not to be out done is the Par 5 14th that can be reached in two however the second shot will see you carrying the water all the way to the green.  Expect a few balls to end up in the drink.

There are several players backing up from Q School this week. After six rounds of golf and a flight back to Australia it could be worth giving them a miss this week as they are bound to be worn out both mentally and physically.

The bookies have the Top 5 in betting as:-

Adam Scott 5/1. Won 2009 Australian Open. Won Australian Masters three weeks ago.

Justin Rose 6/1. Awesome current form including 2nd DP World Tour Championship and 2nd Tour Championship. Class player of the field.

Geoff Ogilvy 12/1. Won 2010 Australian Open. Needs to lift. Current form 51st-28th-51st.

John Senden 12/1. Won 2006 Australian Open. Finished 2nd last year. Current form 26th-16th-28th.

Greg Chalmers 14/1. Defending Champion.Four Top 20′s from last six tournaments. Consistent golfer.

Our Selections this week are:

Brendan Jones 50/1

Brendan is one of the many Australian golfers who plays on the Japanese Tour. He has had 12 victories on the tour and won over $9 million in prize money.

From 16 starts on the Japan Golf Tour this season he has managed two wins and six Top 10 finishes. Not a bad conversion rate!

In 2011 it was 18 starts for five Top 10′s and one victory.

He is playing with  confidence at the moment and his game is in great shape . His last three starts have all been in Japan. 14th in the Taiheiyo Masters, T4th at the Dunlop Phoenix (won by Luke Donald) and last week he was T21st in the Golf Nippon Series JT Cup.

Stats wise he ticks a few boxes as well. 1st in Greens in Regulation, 9th in Sand Saves, 8th in Scoring Average and 6th in Driving Distance.

Jones has the class to give this a real shake and at the current odds on offer represents excellent each way value.


Nick Cullen 66/1

Wow, it is hard to believe Nick is available at 66/1. He would have to be one of the form players over the last few months.

From nine starts on the local tour this season he has had six Top 10 finishes.

Four of those have come in his last five starts.

It started at the WA Goldfields PGA Championship in October where he finished in a tie for fourth.

Then it was a missed cut at the Perth International. From there it was all guns blazing for a T6th at the WA Open Championship.

That was backed up with a 9th in the New Zealand Open and then last week a 3rd place in the NSW PGA Championship.

If that is not enough you can also throw a win at the Indonesia Open into the mix back in March on the OneAsia Tour.

66/1? Yes please I will have some of that!

Good Luck and good punting

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