Given that he has finished inside the top two on his last two visits to RACV Royal Pines Resort, Adam Scott has every right to feel confident on the eve of the Australian PGA Championship.
The World Number Seven missed last year’s tournament, when it was co-sanctioned with the European Tour for the first time, but is back on the Gold Coast this week and bidding to win the event for the second time.
In 2013, Scott finally claimed the Australian PGA Championship title after a series of near misses, and looked to be on course to successfully defend his title 12 months later, only to be denied in a play-off by fellow Australian Greg Chalmers in a marathon play-off.
On that occasion, he and Chalmers played the 18th hole a total of eight times on a gripping final day, once in regulation and a further seven times during the play-off, which Wade Ormsby also contested.
But with renowned golf course architect Graham Marsh having since revamped the back nine, Scott will at least be spared a permanent reminder of the emotional and physical pain he experienced that day.
He said: “In some ways I guess it’s good [that the 18th has been remodelled], but it’s pretty extreme now. It’s changed dramatically, and now I think it’s probably one of the most important greens to hit.
“It would be tough, doing that one seven times again. It would be very, very difficult. Not too much has changed with the drive, but the shot in there is extremely demanding, playing straight into the wind today there was no room for error left or right. You’ve just got to hit a great shot to be on that green and if you do, then you’ve got a really good chance of birdie. So it’s certainly a hole where you want to finish strong.”
As tough as the closing hole is playing, Scott thinks it is unlikely that the winning score will be as high as 12 months ago, when Nathan Holman won in a play-off with Harold Varner III and Dylan Frittelli after the trio had finished level on even par.
Scott’s sentiments were echoed by his compatriot Scott Hend, who believes that a 62 could be a distinct possibility this week, provided the wind does not blow the field away.
He said: “I think there’s a low score out there. Obviously it always depends on the wind conditions here. If it gets really windy, it’s really difficult. I’ve played the back nine only, I haven’t played the front nine yet, but I still think there’s a 62 or 63 out there, if you play well enough.
“It’s always the same, if you can hole the putts and put the ball in the right position, the par fives are still reachable. A couple of the par threes are pretty tough, but I still think there’s a low score out there.”