The end of the road is here for the European Tour regular season, as we await the final Race To Dubai standings before the four tournaments that will decide the overall winner of $3.5 million.
If you want to know more about how the system works, then do check out this article on the European Tour, which should explain everything you need to know.
As well as golfers fighting to get inside the top 60 in the rankings, there are an abundance of players trying to scrape inside the top 110 in order to keep their card for next season.
This is where there will be plenty of intrigue for the Perth International because the pressure of competing for your playing privileges will surely make for some interesting golf.
The tournament itself is held at the Lake Karrinyup Country Club in Perth and remains the only European Tour event in Australia.
The par 72 course lies at 7,143 yards which is obviously short by today’s booming standards.
However it is a ‘tricky’ layout where finding the fairway is a necessity in order to set yourself up for an attacking approach shot. Tee to green will be vital, but the winner will be someone who is a top scrambler and can hole putts on difficult greens. Jason Dufner did say last year that “players will need to use their whole bag” which proves how challenging this course is going to be.
The field assembled is a mix match of Australian, European and PGA Tour members, so it is a difficult one to assess. The likes of Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey, Bo Van Pelt and Ross Fisher are in attendance but find themselves below 20s, which is far too short. Therefore, we started our search above that.
And for the first time in DownThe18th history, the two of us who decide picks came together and found out we had EXACTLY the same 5 players as each other. Considering some of the odds you are about to see, it was an outrageous moment and we are feeling very confident about the week ahead.
Brett Rumford (25/1 PaddyPower)
Race To Dubai Ranking: 8th
We are sure that this will be a popular choice for many punters because Brett Rumford is the local boy with 2 wins to his name this year and an intimate knowledge of the course.
And when you think about his main attributes as a golfer, they do go hand in hand with the challenge this course demands. He is a great scrambler – 7th in the rankings, whilst his putting pretty much won him those 2 tournaments earlier in the year – 1st in putts per round.
His form has been up and down in recent times, missing the cut in his last appearance, but recording 3 top 15s in a row before that. He is a player who thrives on the difficult layouts and at 25s we feel he represents good value considering the calibre of golfer.
Plus, he is in a very healthy position in the Race To Dubai rankings and has every chance of catching Henrik Stenson at the top to take the crown, so home advantage and a passionate Aussie crowd all cheering you on can only do wonders for the mental side of Rumford’s game.
We have all the faith in the world that our number one pick this week will do the business.
Marcus Fraser (33/1 Coral)
Race To Dubai Ranking: 47th
Being another home favourite will certainly help Marcus Fraser, who comes into this tournament as one of the class acts Australia has to offer. Like his compatriot Rumford, he missed the cut on his last outing at the Alfred Dunhill but before that looked impressive in a string of 5 made cuts, culminating in a T8 at the Italian Open.
This is the sort of form we are used to seeing from Fraser because he has had a disappointing year by his high standards. Yet he still finds himself in the top 60 for Race To Dubai, which will obviously lead him into the coming tournaments and he knows he has to play well here in order to assure his position.
And when you think what is required here in terms of attributes, the Australian is another perfect match. He is a great scrambler – 10th in the rankings and a fantastic putter – 7th in the rankings. He will be able to find ways to cope with the rigours of the course and we are very confident in both our Aussie stalwarts here. Make your country proud.
Craig Lee (125/1 Bet365)
Race To Dubai Ranking: 61st
The big bald Scotsman has had his name thrust around DownThe18th walls for a number of months this year because he became something of a jovial character after his swashbuckling, Indiana Jones-esque performance at the Trophee Hassan II. He eventually finished T9 then but his scrambling and par saving was never forgotten.
Hence why when we saw his name entered for this tournament, we felt obliged to jump on it because he is another perfect fit for this course. 37th in scrambling and 36th in putts per round, he has the attributes to really do well here.
Plus, he is currently just one place behind that magic 60 in Race To Dubai and will be doing everything he can to get some money behind him and climb the rankings (above Rory McIlroy who is somehow still in 60th position!)
He is one of the few who has played here before, finishing T28, which will give him confidence having got knowledge of the course beforehand. His recent form however is not overly impressive – 3 missed cuts in a row after his 2nd place at the Omega European Masters where he lost in a playoff to our other bald stalwart, Thomas Bjørn. That clearly affected him in the weeks that followed but this is crunch time for Lee and we have every faith he can pull something off.
Scott Laycock (60/1 StanJames)
Race To Dubai Ranking: N/A
Scott Laycock is our third Australian this week and although you may never have heard of him, he is in outstanding form at the minute.
His worst finish in the last 4 events is T16 and that includes 3 top 10s, so you have to consider him to be a contender when you are clearly swinging and striking the ball well.
In fact he has moved up the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit up to 7th which shows he has been in consistent form.
He also finished T13 last year, when his irons were in fine fettle, but it was just his putting that let him down. If he can hole a few more putts there is no doubting Australia could be celebrating an unusual home victory this week.
Richard Bland (150/1 Various)
Race To Dubai Ranking: 109th
Richard Bland has not had the greatest golfing year by any standards and he is now scrapping at the lower ends of the rankings, trying to stay inside the top 110 in order to keep his card.
This tournament will be of high importance to the Englishman and the pressure to do well should carry him through. He did play relatively well in Portugal last week, recording a T26 finish which helped his standings but it is in Perth where his fate will be decided.
He finished T17 here last year which is a major bonus and he did everything well during that week, without really excelling in one department to push up the leaderboard. He is also a great scrambler and putter – 29th in scrambling and 32nd in putts per round, so he has every chance and at such high odds, it seems criminal not to get involved.
We could throw in many puns with that sort of surname but we are deciding against it. For now.
Rikard Karlberg (125/1 Ladbrokes)
Race To Dubai Ranking: 129th
Karlberg is one of the promising young Swedes who has had a disappointing year, culminating in his current Dubai Rankings. He too will be fighting for his Tour card and has to play well this week in order to see another year.
He is a great scrambler – 18th and putter – 15th in putts per round, so he has the game to attach this course.
His form in recent weeks has been disappointing but T11 showing last week will give him that extra boost of confidence and considering he has at such high odds, there is no harm in chucking a few hard earned pennies at a very talented youngster.