Charl Scwhartzel (pictured) is a leading contender for the Perth International on the European Tour this week. The tournament in Australia is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and as such, has attracted a field of players who are mainly based in the Southern Hemisphere.
However, it is the visiting players who appear to have the best prospects, with Schwartzel in particular in good shape to win this title and improve on his current world ranking of 59. He is joined at Lake Karrinyup Country Club by Jason Dufner and Bo Van Pelt, who have won four times on the US Tour between them.
It is fair to say that Schwartzel has had a poor season as he has tried to build on his US Masters win of 2011. As a major champion, there is now the added pressure of increased media coverage and the South African’s form on the course has suffered as a consequence.
Schwartzel competed at last week’s Turkish Airlines World Golf Final and had an outstanding event. He beat Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar in the group stages before losing to Lee Westwood in the semi-final. That effort should give him some confidence ahead of a tournament that does not have strength in depth in terms of the world rankings of most of the field.
Dufner and Van Pelt make rare excursions overseas, and both should be suited to the course in Perth. It is relatively short by modern standards and does not put a premium on length. Both US players’ methodical approach will be suited to the layout which will put less pressure than usual on holing every birdie opportunity on the greens.
Another leading contender is Paul Casey who has had a bad dip in form after suffering an injury in a snowboarding accident. Casey is one of the class acts in this field, and the former Ryder Cup player will be looking to add to his tally of 11 European Tour wins.
The course has three reachable par-fives, and just about every player in the field will be trying to hit the greens in two shots. There is only one genuine three shot hole on the course. Three of the par-threes are about 200 yards or more in length. The final five holes will provide plenty of opportunities to make up ground on the leaders.