Cameron Smith is the star attraction as the new DP World Tour season kicks off with the Australian PGA Championship.
It is a co-sanctioned event with the PGA Tour of Australasia, and all eyes will be on Smith as he looks to make a big statement on home soil.
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There were roughly ($)140 million reasons why Smith made the move to the Saudi-funded series, but he said one driving force was to spend more time at home and play golf in Australia.
Opinion is split on the emergence of LIV Golf, but after pinning his colours to the mast Smith really has to stand up.
Everything is in place for him to produce the goods, as he is playing in his home state on a Royal Queensland track he will know well.
Smith is a two-time winner of the event, albeit at a different venue, and by most metrics he is the best player in the field.
The way he clinically chased down Rory McIlroy to claim victory at the Open was spellbinding to watch, and that Cameron Smith would be a solid betting proposition.
His performance at St Andrews also showed he could stand up to the utmost pressure, but there will be a different kind of pressure this week. The field may not be as strong as the final major of 2022, but playing in front of home fans presents different challenges. He is expected to win. Smith could romp to success, but the 7/2 on offer makes no appeal.
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The majority of the players in the field are Antipodean, but there is representation from Europe.
David Howell won the event way back in 1998 and he is back again 24 years on, but the European player who catches the eye is Rasmus Hojgaard.
He has been contending on a regular basis for months, with four top-10 finishes in his past six outings.
On a couple of occasions, he has blown big chances in the final round. There’s no fear of getting across the winning line, as he has already won three times on the DP World Tour despite being only 21.
Hojgaard is hugely talented, and Royal Queensland looks tailor-made for his game. Generous, wide fairways and little rough should allow the Dane to use his length off the tee.
Some could see the travel as being an issue, but he was already in the Middle East for the DP World Tour Championship last weekend so has not jetted in all the way from Europe. And let’s be honest, he won’t have travelled in Economy.
At 16/1, Hojgaard makes excellent each-way appeal to cap a good run of form with a win.
The field does lack a little depth, and a second player who catches the eye is Jediah Morgan.
The Australian is the defending champion, and a massive price at 66/1.
Morgan joined LIV Golf mid-way through the season and his first three starts were awful – finishing dead last in Portland and Bedminster after a 32nd-placed finish in the curtain raiser at Centurion Club.
But things gradually improved, with his best finish of 13th coming in the final individual event in Jeddah.
He’s had the best part of six weeks off so it is a leap in the dark to an extent as to how sharp his game will be, but it was earlier in the year that he won the event on this course by 11 shots. That is enough to warrant an each-way play at massive odds.
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