With the PGA Tour in recess for a week and the European version still digesting Rory McIlroy’s crowning Dubai moment before starting it all over again, there is an unusual focus south of the equator this week in golf.
While McIlroy takes the opportunity to bask in successive Race to Dubai crowns and a third overall, the man who boldly stole the Northern Irishman’s limelight for the majority of 2015 begins another tournament defence Down Under.
Jordan Spieth heads the field and the betting at the Emirates Australian Open at 7/4. The world’s number one golfer won the most prestigious event on the PGA Tour of Australasia on debut a year ago, which set the precedent for a phenomenal season.
The double major winner became the first American to win the tournament since 1993 by shooting a miraculous round of 63 on the final day in testing conditions – beating defending champion McIlroy by 15 strokes and marooning 2009 champ Adam Scott nine adrift.
The fact the Aussie Open heads back to The Australian Golf Club for another year only strengthens Spieth’s case after a confident start to the season saw the FedEx Cup winner finish seventh at the WGC HSBC Championship a few weeks back.
Odds of 7/4 to defend his title won’t return huge profits admittedly, but when thrown into the ring with the favourite for the other big tournament of the week in South Africa, the appeal is greatly heightened.
Across the hemisphere another European Tour season begins again in earnest with the Alfred Dunhill Championship returning to Leopard Creek for the 12th successive year, though many of the Tour’s big guns are understandably taking a rest.
One man who certainly isn’t, though, is the Rainbow Nation’s finest wielder of a golf club in 2015.
Branden Grace was nothing short of sensational in the season just past, sealing third overall in the Race to Dubai standings after a third-place finish behind McIlroy and Andy Sullivan in the Tour finals themselves.
That was the South African’s third top-five finish in his last six events to round off his season, capping a year which begun with two wins in his first four events.
One of those was the Alfred Dunhill Championship on home soil, where Grace is understandably installed as the 4/1 market leader having ended the prior season with half a dozen sub-70 rounds.
Rarely have two tournament favourites harboured such iron-clad credentials, which should point punters towards the unusual approach of the winners double across the two tournaments, which pays out at just north of 11/1 with Ladbrokes.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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