The European Tour travels to that well known European nation Australia for its last regular season tournament and history shows that events of this kind in the great southern land have a tendency to go the way of established golfers.
Bo Van Pelt won last year’s ISPS Handa Perth International at Lake Karrinyup Golf Club in Perth by two strokes from Jason Dufner. It was the first European Tour competition that Lake Karrinyup Golf Club had staged since the 2003 Johnnie Walker Classic that Ernie Els won. Twelve months earlier, Retief Goosen took out the 2002 Johnnie Walker Classic title. Van Pelt, Els and Goosen were among the favourites for each of those respective events.
World number 21 Dustin Johnson is the universal ISPS Handa Perth International favourite, with no bookmaker offering double-figure odds about the American, who has won nine professional tournaments around the globe, lifting aloft the trophy. Johnson will have his supporters given how cream usually rises to the top in European Tour events in Australia but he has no course form whatsoever.
Branden Grace is the next highest ranked golfer in the ISPS Handa Perth International field at number 42 but the South African has missed two of his last three cuts and his other result was a 59th so he has travelled Down Under not in the best of form. Like Johnson, though, he will attract support in light of trading at odds of 30.00 with Stan James.
And some punters will flock to defending champion Van Pelt, who is a general 17.00 chance. But Van Pelt is not a regular winner, celebrating only five competition victories since turning professional in 1998. Furthermore, Van Pelt injured his hip during the PGA Championship two months ago and he has played little tournament golf since then, missing the cut in The Barclays and never being a danger in the Deutsche Bank Championship in which he finished in 53rd position.
The pick of the ISPS Handa Perth International favourites is Paul Casey, who is available at odds of 12.00 with Bet365. Casey has played in two events at Lake Karrinyup Golf Club and both times he finished in the top 20. First, Casey was 18th in the 2003 Johnnie Walker Classic. Although Casey was no match for Els – the Big Easy romped home by 10 shots – he fired four solid rounds and his golf improved as the competition progressed. Casey used his Lake Karrinyup Golf Club experience to excellent effect nine years later, finishing fifth in spite of a shocking second round in which he took 75 strokes to reach the clubhouse. Casey took the same total number of shots as Van Pelt in rounds one, three and four so Friday’s round cost him.
If one wants to back a ISPS Handa Perth International golfer at long odds then Scott Laycock holds the most appeal at 67.00 with Coral. Laycock has finished 51st and 13rd on his two Lake Karrinyup Golf Club starts and he is in good nick coming off back-to-back top 10s, albeit in lower grade than this tournament. Laycock was ranked in the world’s top 100 in the early 2000s but, while his best days are behind him, he looks capable of contending. Stan James is quoting odds of 6.50 that Laycock makes the top 10, while he is trading at odds of 2.88 with Bet365 to end up in the top 20.
In terms of ISPS Handa Perth International match bets, the most appetising from a punting perspective is Casey to beat Ross Fisher, with the latter making his Lake Karrinyup Golf Club debut. Casey and Fisher is a popular pairing, with the former available at odds of 1.91 with Stan James. Another interesting play is Laycock to defeat Mathew Goggin, a bet that both Betfred and Totesport are offering at odds of 1.91. Goggin has not played a competitive Lake Karrinyup Golf Club event and he is coming off a missed cut.