Date: December 06, 2006

Australian PGA Preview

A lot has changed in Australian golf since Robert Allenby won the 2005 Cadbury Schweppes Australian PGA Championship, on his way to an historic Australian triple crown. Allenby&aposs dominance of the MFS Australian Open, Cadbury Schweppes Australian PGA Championship and MasterCard Masters is in stark contrast to the wide open summer of golf so far. This year there is no player in standout form, rather a collection of highly-rated stars who have had superb 2006 seasons or have won recently or have been in contention in recent events. US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy and world No.4 Adam Scott will tee it up after finishing second and tied fifth respectively behind eventual winner John Senden at the MFS Australian Open at Royal Sydney. Ogilvy shared the lead at one stage on the final day there before Senden&aposs birdies at the final two holes secured victory. He plays his first two rounds alongside the ever-consistent Stuart Appleby as well as young gun Won Joon Lee. Scott wasn&apost able to reproduce the form that had taken him to victory in the Tour Championship in the United States a couple of weeks earlier, but was still only three shots back. Before the Open Allenby spoke of his confidence that he could repeat his Triple Crown success, only to tie for 21st at Royal Sydney and then 32nd at the Masters at Huntingdale. Having failed to defend either of those titles, Allenby will no doubt hope to at least salvage something from a year that has been affected by injury when he chases a fourth PGA crown. He has already been a back-to-back winner of the event in 2000 and 2001 before his success in a rain-affected tournament last year. In what will probably attract the biggest galleries of the opening two days, Allenby is paired with Scott and two-time winner Peter Lonard. Jarrod Moseley, who shared the honours with Lonard in 2002 before Lonard went it alone two years later, are other winners in the field, along with Peter Senior (1989 and 2003), Phil Tataurangi (1996), Craig Parry (1992) and Wayne Grady (1988 and 1991). Nathan Green, who led for the first three rounds of the Australian Open before failing to make it an all-the-way win on the Sunday, went some way to atoning for that when he claimed the New Zealand Open with a brilliant final day 65. Green benefited from getting in the clubhouse early at Gulf Harbour, leaving the leading contenders to flounder in the wind. In the end he had two shots to spare. It caps a dream year in which he tied second in a US event and was rookie of the year on that tour. Left-hander Nick O&aposHern consistently contends in Australian tournaments and is due to win another some day. O&aposHern will also return to Coolum with some confidence knowing that his only Australasian PGA Tour victory came at the 1999 Schweppes Coolum Classic at the same venue. Paul Gow will also go into the event with plenty of confidence, having secured his 2007 US PGA Tour card over a gruelling six rounds in California at the tour school. The Order of Merit crown is also still up for grabs with American Kevin Stadler still on top thanks to his Johnnie Walker Classic win at The Vines in February, but O&aposHern, Richard Green and Nathan Green can all take the crown if they win.