32 year old Steve Dartnall is still hunting for that breakthrough professional win, and the stars may be aligning at this week’s ISPS Handa Perth International.
The big hitting West Aussie will literally and figuratively be at home on a Lake Karrinyup layout that favours those who are strong off the tee. In his last three starts in Perth, Dartnall has finished T10, fourth and second, with his fourth place finish coming 18 months ago at the previous playing of the Perth International.
“I feel I played alright in 2014,” said Dartnall on the eve of this week’s event.
“I probably wasn’t in contention on the last day but I finished fourth in the end but a few behind. I enjoy playing Karrinyup, obviously it’s in awesome condition and it should be great out there."
“It’s not my home course but it’s a course I played a lot growing up here and you get to know the place pretty well.”
Dartnall also enters this week’s event in solid form after a T5 finish at the Oates Victorian Open earlier this month. At 13th Beach, he simultaneously wowed the commentary team with his powerful ball striking while they threw his name up as one of Australia’s most talented players yet to win a pro event.
“You can put pressure on yourself or let someone else put that pressure on you,” said Dartnall about those comments.
“That might be the case but things don’t happen for whatever reason, but that doesn’t bother me, but obviously it would be good to get the monkey off the back I guess and to get a win.”
Dartnall will be up against some stiff local and international competition. European Tour regulars and fellow West Australians Brett Rumford and Jason Scrivener carry the highest expectations from the local fans, while 2014 runner-up Victor Dubuisson has arrived to town a day early in his preparation to go one better in 2016.
“It was not a difficult decision to return,” said Dubuisson in today’s press conference.
“I always like to come back to tournaments where you’ve had a great result. I came close two years ago and I really want to go one better.”
South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen has been dubbed the pre-tournament favourite and is enjoying the tag while not reading too much into it.
“It’s a nice feeling to go in as the favourite for the week, but you have to play well and make good shots,” said Oosthuizen.
“There’s a lot of good guys in the field, and the favourite doesn’t always win, which is what makes golf different to any other sport.”
A journalist then agreed with Oosthuizen, mentioning that countryman Charl Schwartzel missed the cut after being dubbed the pre-tournament favourite in 2014.
“Well thanks for bringing that up!” said Oosthuizen with a laugh.
“Around a golf course like this you have to see what the day presents, and if you’re not hitting it well you don’t go that well as the greens are quite tricky.”