Jason Dufner (pictured) makes a rare appearance on the European Tour by contesting the Perth International in Australia this week. The tournament is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and as such the leading contenders are mainly local players.
Charl Schwartzel has travelled to Australia to contest an event that has attracted a relatively weak field in terms of world rankings. The South African player won the US Masters last year but a relatively poor season on both main Tours has seen him fall to 59th position in the world rankings.
Dufner is now at a career high of sixth in the standings. Over a six week spell in the spring he was arguably playing the best golf of any other player in the world. He won two tournaments and was second in another and followed those efforts by finishing fourth in the US Open.
Dufner’s form has dipped somewhat since that stellar period of play. However, he has still made his last five cuts and finished inside the top 30 in each tournament over that spell. He played in the Tour Championship but didn’t contend that week after a demanding but fruitful season.
He easily qualified for the Ryder Cup and despite that agonising loss generally had a good week. He best Peter Hanson in the singles so did the best he could for the team on that dramatic afternoon in Chicago. He also won two of his three outings in the pairs matches over the first two days.
This week’s Perth International is being held at the Lake Karrinyup Country Club for the first time so there is no course form to assess. The course has a par of 72 and at less than 7200 yards is below average in length by modern standards. Hitting the greens in the correct number of shots will be key to good scoring and Dufner’s methodical game will be suited to the challenge ahead.
Our Player in Focus for this tournament lost in a play-off to Keegan Bradley for the US PGA Championship last year. That form at major championship level makes him a worthy favourite this week and gives him an opportunity to add an overseas win to the two tournaments he won on the PGA Tour earlier this year.