Last played with a local field in 2020 due to Covid, the event is back to full strength with a good field featuring 12 of the top-20 on the Order of Merit teeing it up this week and plenty of young local Talent looking to follow in the footsteps of the Defending Champion.
Featuring some of the biggest names in Australian golf on the honor roll, including Kel Nagle, Greg Norman, Ian Baker-Finch and Graham Marsh, this title dates back to 1913 and has also been won by Overseas players such as Gary Player and Peter Jacobsen .
DEFENDING CHAMPION: It will feel a little strange for the 2020 Winner, Hayden Hopewellto be the Defending Champion here this week, but the local hope will relish returning to the site of his Victory.
Still an Amateur and surely set to make the jump sooner rather than later into the pro Ranks, Hopewell finished the 54-hole version two years ago at seven-under-par to defeat his fellow WA Amateur Haydn Barron by a solitary stroke.
RIGHT: Hayden Hopewell claimed the title of the last time the WA Open was played in 2020. PHOTO: PGA of Australia.
Close with Jarryd Felton and Hannah Green and playing good golf of late prior to a missed cut last week, Hopewell is a big chance to feature again this week and if repeating his heroics would be the first back-to-back Winner since Terry Gale completed the double in 1982-83.
COURSE: Golf was first played at Royal Fremantle Golf Club way back in 1906, making it one of the oldest Australian Clubs still playing on its original site, and the course has been steadily improving in recent years with an eye on a permanent Top-100 Ranking spot.
Just missing out on that honor in 2022, the course features plenty of doglegs, undulating Fairways and Immaculate playing surfaces framed by dense tree lines.
Granted its Royal prefix in 1930, Royal Fremantle’s initial course was laid out by Arthur Oliphant and Peter Anderson in the early 1900s before Michael Coate updated the course in 2004 and Richard Chamberlain began working in 2013, the latter continuing to work with the club today.
Playing to a par of 72 and tipping out at 6,188 meters, the course plays longer than the listed yardage with the kikuyu Fairways not offering much roll and the turning par-4s and par-5s meaning driver is often not the play from the tee.
Royal Fremantle is a constantly improving layout and will welcome the WA Open for the 22nd time this week. PHOTO: Brendan James.
Recently reviewed in Golf Australia Magazine, editor Brendan James noted the “superb golfing topography” of the property and the quality of the Fairway surfaces. Converting greens from bentgrass to Pure Distinction bentgrass (8 of the former in play), this week’s field will need to have their wits about them when going from surface to surface.
Beyond the quality of its course, Royal Fremantle has produced a significant number of very good players, its recent crop including US Amateur Winner Oliver Goss, Minjee and Min Woo Lee, as well as Hopewell.
RELATED: So-called expert golf tips for this week
PRIZEMONEY: $ 150,000
PLAYERS TO WATCH: With two weeks left in the Aussie Tour season there is plenty still to play for in terms of the Order of Merit and what comes with it, but every player in contention for either one of three DP World Tour cards or Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying spots knows they can’t look beyond playing well this week.
Among those featuring highly on the moneylist, Louis Dobbelaar put up another good performance last week in Kalgoorlie, where he was T9, and a first pro win feels like a matter of when not if.
Dobbelaar is used to playing tree-lined golf at home at Brookwater Country Club, and having an eschewed heading over to play more Overseas in favor of playing at home will want to make the decision the right one.
Another of the strong performers last week, Austin Bautista has found some great form of late and will again find a course that should suit his game this week.
A Winner already this year, Jarryd Felton is always worth keeping an eye on when playing at home in Western Australia. PHOTO: PGA of Australia.
Bautista ultimately finished second last week at the state’s PGA Championship, and a hat-trick of the top-10s at TPS events suggests he will feature again here.
Runner-up in 2020, Haydn Barron has since joined the pro Ranks and after a T26 in the desert took out the Blitz Golf title at his home club this week.
Barron is clearly comfortable around the Royal Fremantle and appears to be finding his feet playing for his living, and has a game that would suit any major Tour around the world.
The winners so far this year on the local circuit are all worth keeping an eye on here, including Dimi Papadatos, Aaron Pike and Jarryd Feltonwith the latter knowing the host layout well given his Coach Ritchie Smith is based at Fremantle.
Then there are the Veterans who, as history shows, are often a factor at this event.
Brett Rumford still owns one of the best short games golf has ever seen and loves playing in WA, while Matt Millar should never be discounted, particularly around a tight and turning course such as this week’s host.
Also keep an eye out for two former Amateur stars on the world stage. Oliver Goss mainly spends his time teaching the game rather than playing it these days, but he owns a game that was good enough to play well at Venues like Augusta National and he knows every blade of grass here. Brady Watt remains a constant Threat to leaderboards, and despite now Basing himself in Melbourne is still a sandgroper at heart, and as he showed during his Sandbelt Invitational Victory last year, the chance to shape the ball brings out his best.
72-HOLE RECORD: 261, (Curtis Luck2016).
RECENT WINNERS: Michael Sim (2019), Zach Murray (2018), Stephen Leaney (2017), Curtis Luck (2016), Daniel Fox (2015).
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