In 2018, the 103rd edition of the Australian Open heads to ‘The Lakes Golf Club’ in Sydney as both local and international talent look to get their hands on the Stonehaven Cup. Established in 1928 by Von Hagge, ‘The Lakes Golf Club’ is one of the most prestigious, yet challenging courses in Australia.
Redesigned by course architects ‘Ogilvy Clayton’ in 2009, the fairways consist of Kikuyu grass and if they weren’t already tough due to their undulating nature, the greens are quick and consist of A4 bent grass. As the name suggests, water comes into play on more than half of the holes, with some strategically placed fairways forcing players to consider risk or reward.
The par 72, 6317m course is not long by any means but will require a solid four rounds of golf to be there holding up the cup on Sunday. The US occupy a strong contingent at the top of the market in Keegan Bradley, Brandt Snedeker, and Matt Kuchar fresh off his win in the OHL Classic last week. But they will all need to get past the ever impressive Cameron Smith and last year’s winner, Cameron Davis, if they are to claim victory.
The Aussie Favourite
Cameron Smith ($8)
A play-off loss one year, and a 4th place finish the next… That is how Queenslander Cameron Smith has fared in both the 16’ and 17’ Australian Opens. In 2018 he will look to go all the way when he tees off on Thursday as the tournament favourite.
A course that should suit him nicely with his consistent accuracy in and around the greens, Smith is expected to be gaining plenty of air-time on Sunday when the final pairings tee-off. Although golf can be a funny game and plenty of high profiles fail, Smith will look to draw on his impressive 5th at Augusta earlier this year.
Keegan Bradley ($12)
2011 US PGA Championship winner, Keegan Bradley, comes to the Australian Open after only recently winning BMW Championship, his first win since 2012. After experiencing problems with the putter, Bradley appears to have rejuvenated himself heading into the weekend.
It is hard to know if he will be ready for what lies ahead of him, but if his recent form is anything to go off, it is likely he will be leading what is a strong US contingent. One of the main chances that is capable of shooting low scores if he gets it going.
Brandt Snedeker ($11)
9-time PGA tour winner, Brandt Snedeker returns to the Australian Open after previously finishing runner-up in 2007. Snedeker has dropped significantly in the world rankings, if he can draw on his success in Wyndham Championship earlier this year, he is more than a chance.
Even often admitted by himself, Snedeker is complete Rocks and Diamonds. There is no ‘good’ rounds for the former world no.4, who goes out to win taking plenty of risks along the way. Given how this course sets-up, don’t be surprised if he either misses the cut or goes on for victory.
Matt Kuchar ($7)
Fresh off his win in Mexico, Kuchar is looking back that up with another impressive result at ‘The Lakes Golf Club’. His first win in over 4 years, Kuchar showed plenty of nerves in the final round, but was able to use his wealth of experience to hang-on for victory.
Kuchar previously played here back in 2011, to which he missed the cut and took in the Aussie weather over the weekend. It is hard to see him repeating his heroics of last week, but nonetheless, Kuchar rounds out a pretty impressive trio of Americans.
The Young Kiwi
Nick Voke ($51)
2018 has been a break-out season for young New Zealander, Nick Voke. Securing his spot in the US for the coming year, Voke was ultra-impressive in the PGA Tour China series, winning three events and finishing top 5 in another two.
Having his name etched into the Stonehaven Cup would require him to go to another level, but if he can adapt to the lakes layout, Voke looks excellent value to cause an upset.
The Old Stager
John Senden ($51)
It is hard to forget 2012 when at the age of 53, Peter Senior was able to tap into his wealth of knowledge and experience and win here for one of the most remarkable victories. Senden will look to do the same when he puts aside his recent form in the US and attempt to once again do it for the oldies.
In the past he has relished coming to ‘The Lakes Golf Club’ with some consistently good results, but will he be able to return to that old form heading into the weekend.