The world has just watched the conclusion of another fantastic Emirates Australian Open. How would you sum up the week?
I thought it was exciting. I thought there were highs and lows for a lot of players. Difficult conditions to start out with but we were very fortunate on the last couple of days to get some good weather and all the strong players were really able to produce some great golf which creates true excitement.
Did you receive any feedback from the golfers about the course at the Australian Golf Club?
Yes, they thought it was outstanding. They loved the condition of the Australian, they loved the test of it. The stronger players thrive on being tested because you have to hit true golf shots. You can’t get away with loose shots around there. The fairways were unbelievable, they were cored and sanded 6 weeks prior and the putting surfaces were outstanding, being smooth, firm and fast.
The 2016 Emirates Australian Open will be held at Royal Sydney GC. How will this impact the event?
It’s another proven venue for the Australian Open. It’s in a great location and it’s very accessible from all points of Sydney. The world strongest players have also won there, as Rory McIlroy did in in 2013 defeating Adam Scott on the last hole. This says a lot about the tournament and the golf course. In 2016 we might do a little bit of tweaking. All in all, I think its one of the best theatre finishes, when you come down to the 18th green, up the rise there on the last hole, it’s truly an amazing theatre.
Who makes the final decision on pin placements and how?
Me and it’s a bit of a balance. It’s mainly geared around weather conditions which is something a lot of people in charge of setting up golf courses don’t usually consider too much, but it is important to use the weather. The weather to me is paramount. I also try and allow for the excitement to build over the first two days with maybe softer pin placements. This creates the excitement, most good players can score well and birdies are more on offer than the last two days. The last two rounds I prefer to put extra demands on the world class players, that’s when other players falter, they are unable to go with the best “so to speak”.
How big of an influence can the weather have on a tournament of this stature?
Huge. If you’re talking about the playing of the game, the demands on precise shot making is heightened. Stronger players and longer hitters are not necessarily at the advantage, but people that can really control the ball and move the ball both ways can have an advantage in strong and windy conditions. If you get rain, it makes the golf course easier because its more receptive for the players. They can be more aggressive with their shot making and go at flags where they would probably not do that on firmer, faster greens. For spectators, they would obviously rather walk around in sunshine and nice temperatures so weather has a lot to do with it. And from a TV spectacle, it’s better to see large crowds in colours following great players and having sunshine on their backs with a light breeze, Sydney provides both and TV love it.
What was your favourite hole of the week?
I personally think that there is no doubt that the front nine at The Australian Golf Club is the toughest front nine in Australia. I like watching the ninth hole. You’ve got to be very precise with your second shot. Into the wind it’s a beast and even down-wind it’s quite demanding because you’ve got water surrounding the left half and a huge lower tier. I think the ninth hole, for me, has got to be one of the holes that rates a “must watch” hole. Let’s not forget the 18th, the second shot to the par-5 green with water hard against that green also raises the heart rate!!