Woods to find the Lakes Down Under!
Starts Wednesday 20:00 - live on ESPN from Thursday 01:00
The good news for all golf fans is that Tiger Woods is back playing and will be in attendance at the Australian Open. The bad news is that his spat with former caddie Steve Williams is in danger of stealing all the headlines this weekend. Thankfully Tiger has spoken to the media and forgiven his ex-employee as well as negating any suggestion that Williams is a racist. Unfortunately this theme will linger throughout the tournament but hopefully it does not mar what promises to be a cracking week of golf in Sydney.
Thanks to Fred Couples 50/1 committing his captain's picks for the Presidents Cup, that is to take place on November 17th, to play with him in Sydney, we can all look forward to a very strong field at the Australian Open. The likes of Tiger Woods 9/1, Dustin Johnson 16/1 and Bubba Watson 33/1 will all be looking to tune-up in preparation for the trip to Melbourne.
Since the days of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player the Australian Open has been a one sided affair with the home Nation's players excelling on home soil. Tournament favourite Adam Scott won the event in 2009, and since changing to the long putter and employing his new caddie Steve Williams his game has gone from strength to strength. When distracted by off-field events he does have a tendency to tighten up and go missing and the ongoing saga between Woods and his caddie is enough of a reason not to back the former champion.
Compatriots Jason Day 11/1 and Geoff Ogilvy 14/1 on the other hand are in with a great chance of taking the Stonehaven Cup. Day goes into the tournament as the highest ranked Australian and with ten top ten finishes this year, including two in the Majors, he will want to give the locals a demonstration as to why he is going to be there number one guy. Ogilvy is the defending champion at the Lakes Golf Club, and he won the tournaments thanks to taming the three par 5's on the back nine. If he can use his course knowledge and forget about his recent form then he has a chance of featuring in the latter stages.
Two other former champions worth a mention are also Australians. Robert Allenby 25/1 and Aaron Baddeley 20/1 are both two-time winners of the event, Baddeley has had the better of 2011 winning the Northern Trust Open in February and sitting 14th in the FedEx Cup standings and for me 20/1 looks good value on the local golfer.
A word has to go Greg Norman 100/1, the Golfing icon won this tournament an impressive five times. He is the rest of the worlds Presidents Cup captain and so has a dual role at the event but it would be nice if the Shark could make the weekend and walk down the 18th on the final Sunday, maybe even alongside American captain Fred Couples.
William Hill will be offering a huge range of markets on the Australian Open including, 3-ball betting, tournament match bets and Margin of victory markets. The event will be priced up In-play but it will be on in the early hours, so perfect for when you stroll in after you Friday and Saturday night sessions. Undoubtedly the cameras will be fixated on Tiger and Steve Williams but hopefully it will just add to the coverage of the event and not distract the golfers from shooting low scores at the Lakes.