Date: October 19, 2016
Author: Bernie Pramberg

Southern Players compare Brisbane to Melbourne

hern young guns Anthony Houston and Jake Higginbottom were glowing in their assessments of Brisbane Golf Club on the eve of the Isuzu Queensland Open.

Both are in good form coming into the Open after top-10 finishes at the $1.5 million Fiji International won by Brandt Snedeker two weeks ago.

Victorian Hudson, 24, who tied third at Natadola Bay, favourably compared Brisbane with courses on Melbourne’s famed sand belt.

“It is hard, fast and tight. Very similar to some of the sand belt courses back home,’’ said Houston, after playing the pro-am.

“I will be hitting 2-iron from quite a lot of the tees and was shocked early today when my first couple of putts went way past the hole. The greens are quite quick.’’

A former top amateur, Houston turned pro three years ago and has enjoyed a solid 2016.

“I lost the Victorian PGA by a stroke early in the year and have had a few top-10s in China,’’ he said. “My game is in pretty good shape at the moment.’’

In contrast to Houston, New South Welshman, Higginbottom, 23, endured a self-described “terrible” year until turning the corner in Fiji where he tied seventh.

“It was nice to be in contention in Fiji. It’s the sort of place I seem to play well every time I go there. Even though I didn’t shoot a good round on the Saturday I was pleased the way I bounced back.

“I haven’t played well for 15 months so it was good to get to Fiji and play well.’’

Higginbottom notched some strong performances at the Queensland Open in 2013 and 2014 when he finished fourth and third respectively at Brookwater.

He was delighted with what he experienced at Brisbane during the tournament eve pro-am.

“I’d never played here before and the course is great. It is like they transferred a Melbourne sand belt course in Brisbane,’’ he said.

Defending champion David Bransdon believes a 72-hole score in the high single-figures or low double-digits below par will be hard to beat.

“I think that will be pretty close,’’ he said. “It is hard to get the ball close to the hole here. The greens are firm and quite tricky.’’

Peter Lonard agreed that tournament scoring would not be as low as many expect.

Rookie professional Cameron Davis, who will be making his debut in the Open, said he felt comfortable on the course.

The 21-year old, an elite amateur who won the 2015 Australian amateur title, is a renowned long-hitter who conceded he will have to temper his aggression this week.

Popular Queensland professional Matt Guyatt, whose last outing was at the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland, will have well-known Foxtel rugby league commentator and former player Ben Ikin carrying his bag this week.

Thursday’s opening round starts at 6.30am with players hitting-off from the first and 10th tees.

The Isuzu Queensland Open commences at The Brisbane Golf Club on Thursday 20 – Sunday 23. Entry is free.