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  • Writer's pictureNate (@WeKnowFantasy)

Out of the Rough: ISPS Handa Australian Open (2023)

The 2023-24 DP World Tour season continues with a second consecutive week in Australia for this week’s ISPS Handa Australian Open.

This event was first played in 1904 and continues to this day as one of the oldest and most prestigious events on the entire DP World Tour.

This week’s victor will lift the coveted Stonehaven Cup, etching their name along the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Greg Norman.

The Stonehaven Cup has been awarded to the winner since 1930 when it was first presented by the Governor General of Australia, Lord Stonehaven.

The ISPS Handa Australian Open will move to a new venue this season, held in Sydney. It’ll take place over two separate courses - The Australian and The Lakes.

It is also a con-sanctioned event between the PGA Tour of Australasia and the DP World Tour.

Additionally, for the second straight year, Australia’s national open will host both the mens and the women.

The Field

This week’s field will of course be headlined by many of Australia’s best.

That list includes last week’s winner at Royal Queensland in the Australian PGA Championship, Min Woo Lee. Lee will look to make it a double celebration in an attempt to win his nation’s open.

Joining Lee as one of Australia’s own looking to claim their nation’s open is LIV star and World No. 20, Cameron Smith. Smith looks to bounce back after a woeful performance last week in Australia where he missed the cut, shooting nine over through two rounds.

Former Masters’ Champion Adam Scott will also be teeing it up this week who is also in some great form heading into this week. He placed sixth last week and has posted four top-tens in his last seven starts.

Other notable Australians playing this week include Cameron Davis, Lucas Herbert and Marc Leishman.

Adrian Meronk returns as the defending champion. The Polish star dominated last year’s installment, defeating second place Scott by five strokes.

Other non-Australian notable golfers playing this week include Joaquin Niemann, Ryo Hisatsune, Rikuya Hoshino and Robert MacIntyre.

The Course(s)

As previously mentioned, this week’s event will take place over two separate courses.

Golfers will play a round each at The Australian Golf Club and The Lakes Golf Club on Thursday and Friday. Those who make the cut will play their final two rounds at The Australian.

Both courses sit approximately 1.5 miles from each other.

The Australian

The Australian has hosted the national open 21 times, most recent from 2014 to 2019. 

It was founded in 1882 and is the oldest golf club in Australia.

It was originally designed by Carnegie Clark and updated in 1926 by Alister Mackenzie. Jack Nicklaus spearheaded an update in 1980 and then again in 2013.

The most recent renovation led by Nicklaus was a major redevelopment of the layout.

The Australian is a tree-lined Par 72 that plays around 7,300 yards.

Water is in play on seven holes here this week. This course also features plenty of sand.

What’s most notable about this course is the need for accuracy off the tee. Additionally, any hopeful winner will need good course management.

The Lakes

The Lakes has hosted the national open seven times, most recently in 2018 but also hosting from 2010-2012.

It was opened in 1928 and the current course was shaped by former pro Mike Clayton.

As the name implies, there is a lot of water in play this week. The Lakes is located within the Botany Water Reserve.

The Lakes features narrow fairways with plenty of trees and bunkers for golfers to avoid. It also features plenty of unofficial sand and scrub and features a multitude of testing doglegs.

With the presence of a lot of water, the narrow fairways along with the trees and bunkers, like The Australian, golfers will need to be both accurate off the tee and develop good course management. 

The Lakes plays as a Par 70 at around 6,900 yards.

It has a links appearance to it and is described as rugged.

The Weather

As of the time of writing this, we can expect some wet conditions this week. There is at least a 50-percent chance of precipitation for each of Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Sunday currently holds the highest chance at 70-percent. There are also thunderstorms in the forecast for Saturday. Temperatures will begin at 78-degrees on Thursday  before gradually falling to 72-degrees by Sunday. With the rain and potential thunderstorms will also come some wind. Winds are set to range from 12 miles-to-per to 14 miles-per-hour from Thursday through Saturday with Sunday currently holding the highest wind speeds at 17 miles-per-hour. In all, the weather this week could test those teeing it up.

Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT) / Driving Accuracy

  • Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)

  • Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)

  • Sand Saves Percentage

  • Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)

  • Scrambling

Betting Card

Adrian Meronk (+1400)

I know the event was held elsewhere last year, but Meronk is the defending champion of this event and he did so in demanding fashion. He finished the 2022-23 DP World Tour Season first in SG: OTT, fifth in GIR%, 13th in SG: APP, 31st in driving accuracy, 39th in scrambling, 57th in SG: PUTT and 82nd in sand saves percentage. He didn’t have the best showing last week in Australia with a T40th. Prior to that he did go T32nd at the DP World Tour Championship, T15th at the Nedbank Golf Challenge and won the Andalucia Masters. I’m playing two units this week on Meronk.

Ryo Hisatsune (+2200)

You’ll be hard pressed to find a hotter golfer on the entire DP World Tour than Hisatsune. He placed T13th last week at PGA Australian Championship. He also placed T18th at the DP World Tour Championship, ninth at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, T21st at the Qatar Masters and won the Cazoo Open de France. He finished last season on the DP World Tour by going tenth in SG: PUTT, 11th in driving accuracy, 15th in GIR%, 17th in SG: OTT, 30th in scrambling, 37th in sand saves percentage and 90th in SG: APP. I’m playing a unit on him this week.

Alex Fitzpatrick (+6000)

My model keeps gravitating me to Fitzpatrick and I don’t hate it. He finished last season on the DP World tour by going fourth in sand saves percentage, 14th in both SG: APP and scrambling, 37th in GIR%, 72nd in SG: PUTT, 73rd in driving accuracy and 101st in SG: OTT. He placed T18th last week in Australia as well. Beyond that he placed T26th at the Andalucia Masters and T20th at the Open de Espana back in October. I’m playing a unit on Fitzpatrick this week.

Jason Scrivener (+9000)

I couldn’t leave this week without having at least one Australian on my betting card. Scrivener didn’t have the best performance a week ago in Australia, although he did make the cut. However, he has had some good performances dating back to September. He went T39th at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, T9th at the Qatar Masters, T20th at the Open de Espana and T25th at the BMW PGA Championship. He also finished last season 21st in driving accuracy, 24th in GIR%, 41st in SG: APP, 53rd in SG: PUTT, 86th in SG: OTT and 110th in scrambling. His downfall comes out of the sand where he finished 150th but he is rather elite when it comes to accuracy so I don’t mind that. I’m playing a unit on him this week.

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