Golf Capital – Lee wins third title as Thomas defends crown in Malaysia


A collection of my golf thoughts from the week with a look to the week ahead which sees the leading male and female players in the game both playing in tournaments in Asia.


Opening drive:

American Justin Thomas won again in Malaysia for the second year running as three-time major winner Padraig Harrington scored a drought-breaking win claiming the Portugal Masters. In China Australian Minjee Lee claimed her third LPGA title.


Thomas benefitted from an early fourth round collapse from Indian Anirban Lahiri, who led the CIMB Classic after the third round, eventually winning by three strokes. Lahiri made all casual golfers and weekend warriors go “I know how you feel” when he took a nine (!!!) on the par five third hole in his final round to open the door for Thomas. What was bizarre about Lahiri’s quadruple bogey was it didn’t involve any water hazards and simply two hacked shots that really cost him. Eventually finishing in a tie for third Lahiri’s tee shot got wedged in a tree and his eventual approach to the third green was so miscued it landed in the tee box over the right hand corner of the green.


Also in Asia Australian Lee won the Blue Bay LPGA event after she had led for almost all of the tournament before holding off challenges from Jessica Korda and Ariya Jutanugarn with that trio well clear (five strokes at least) of the remainder of the field. Lee, 20, has won nearly two million prizemoney in her career earned on the LPGA with the now world number 16 at $1,985,635. The LPGA swaps with the PGA heading to the same course they played in Kuala Lumpur this weekend for the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia tournament. Interestingly, Korda won this tournament in 2015.


Whilst the big guns will head to China there is a regular PGA tour event with the tour back in the USA with the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi, an event won by Peter Malnati last year.


Irishman Harrington won the European Tour’s Portugal Masters in Vilamoura. 2008’s US PGA champion had Andy Sullivan closing in but a crucial birdie on the 17th gave him enough breathing room to win by a stroke.



Player performance notes:

Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me and/or are related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The final WGC event for the year will be played at the Sheshan International course in Shanghai. Scotland’s Russell Knox, who were wrote about last week, is the defending champion in the elite 78-player field.


Under 20: Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman closed with a 66 last year at this tournament and after a brief break could content immediately. Would love an early tee time in round one to set the benchmark on the day.


20 to 50: Hideki Matsuyama. The Japanese golfer won his home open a fortnight back and contented in Malaysia to finish second. Two of the last three winners were yet to win majors, although Dustin Johnson has gone on to done so and Matsuyama fits that profile of a player coming into a key part of his career at the age of 24.


20 to 50: Patrick Reed. Proven experience in the tournament and having an established, if not elite, record is important at this event and Reed (T7) last year has both.


20 to 50:  Danny Willett. Like Reed has done well here before and shot a terrific ten under in his final round here last time to finish three shots off the winner.


50 to 100: Branden Grace. The South African disappointed in his last few weeks in this neck of the woods but has a liking for this tournament with a T5 last year.


50 to 100: Tyrell Hatton. For all the big names playing here winning form matters and Hatton has done so recently albeit under different circumstances in Scotland in a tournament linked to a pro-am played across three courses.


50 to 100: Alexander Levy. The Frenchman is a previous winner in China and has, like Hatton, won recently (last month in the European Open) so has plenty going his way.


200 to 500: Haotong Li. The Chinese golfer was T7 last year here and won the China Open in May at only 21 years of age is still hugely promising but could kick on with a significant win


Greens in regulation

We possibly need to re-name one of our sections ‘amateur corner’ after another big result to rising star after Brett Coletta won the Queensland Open on Sunday. Victorian Coletta, 20, continued his good run of form with victory at the Brisbane Golf Club and in doing so was the first amateur since Stuart Appleby in 1991 to win the event in the sunshine state. Whilst not quite on the level on Curtis Luck’s great run of results of late Coletta’s three-shot victory is notable with key tournaments in Australian in the coming months.


Tap in

Heading towards the World Cup of Golf from November 24 two key PGA Tour of Australasia events the NSW Open then the Australian Open come up in November. Given the Masters isn’t running locally this year is this NSW Open, starting at Stonecutters Ridge on November 10, the new leg of the Australian Triple Crown? Or, do we need a new name for the ‘big two’ events (the Australian Open and the Australian PGA Championship) that is more creative than the ‘big two’. Suggestions on a postcard, tweet or in the comments.


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A-League 1,000: The Homes Edition


1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on round three of the A-League which starts in Melbourne and finishes on Sunday at what will be a new A-League venue – Spotless Stadium in the Sydney Olympic Park precinct.

A-League Rd 2 - Perth v Wellington

Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships v Perth Glory, Friday – AAMI Park

After a dominant derby win which saw Tim Cahill get the headlines the Socceroo is at home for the first time this season as John van’t Schip’s team face an unbeaten, but not impressive to date, Perth. Johnathan Howcroft outlined in The Guardian how influential Neil Kilkenny is to the light blue midfield and Perth will need to improve on their last two games to dominate the midfield. Perth will need to shore up their defence but the absence of Shane Lowry could make things tricky here for Kenny Lowe’s side.


Big game for: Goals. The hosts scored nine times against Perth last season in their three fixtures (1W 1D 1L) with Bruno Fornaroli netting on four occasions so action seems assured here which is good for both teams’ first free-to-air contest of the season.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Missing Adam Taggart (who will again be absent this weekend) saw Perth need some theatrics to set up goals in their win over Wellington. But do they get those calls away from home?


Central Coast Mariners v Brisbane Roar, Saturday – Central Coast Stadium

Perhaps Canberra Olympic coach Frank Cachia helped to console the Mariners’ mentor Paul Okon after both sides played well but didn’t get handball calls go their way in the last week against Sydney FC. Off the pitch, and after they were humbled by the Jets, Brisbane didn’t add to their squad before deadline day, leaving them with two vacant visa spots and no wins to start to season. On the pitch their defence was undone by clever interplay in the Jets midfield on multiple occasions but given the Mariners were humbled by Sydney FC facing John Aloisi’s side is, at least for them, perhaps not the worse opponent to play this weekend.


Big game for: The Mariners starting eleven getting to the second half. Be it tactical or injuries having to make changes at the break in consecutive games isn’t helpful for team cohesion.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Corey Brown will want to improve after he was exposed at times, especially for the first Jets goal on Sunday. Once Connor O’Toole returns from the AFC Under 19 Championship (aka Under 20 World Cup qualifying tournament) Brown, himself a youth international could be on the outer.


Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory, Saturday – Beer Sauce Burger Stadium

Both the last two grand finals winners are seeking their first triumph of the season and Adelaide stay home after a highly-charged defeat at the hands of the Wanderers. Guillermo Amor’s team have had all week to stew after Friday night’s defeat and given the game is played between the ears (anywhere between 50 and 90% depending who you talk to) they are either living certainties or will be vanquished before they walk out at Hindmarsh. Kevin Muscat’s team had little to write home about from the Derby bar Marco Rojas’ return.


Big game for: Trusting what they can do. Even though Adelaide are yet to win they have scored in each game so that’s a start.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: A rejuvenated recruit. The Victory added the only significant signing on A-League deadline day on Wednesday with former Bundesliga winger Maxi Beister joining their ranks (but the 26 year-old is unlikely to feature here.) Hampered by injuries in his career the attacker’s signature could be a huge coup for the Victory.



Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC, Sunday – Westpac Stadium

Sydney FC failed to beat Wellington at all last season (1L 2D) so the Phoenix have something to look to the recent past which shows they are a chance here despite Sydney’s goal-scoring feats on the last fortnight. However Wellington must bury their chances. Defender Marco Rossi, strikers Roy Krishna and Kosta Barbarouses should have done better with chances in Perth and similar profligacy will be punished by Graham Arnold’s side. Arnold would have noted the fouls Wellington conceded, even if some were unwarranted, against the Glory and would have alerted the likes of Brandon O’Neill to this.


Big game for: Goal-scoring expectations. Sydney’s eight goals to open the season is an A-League record but let’s remember who they were playing. Sydney have scored 13 goals now against CCM in their last four games so the four goals is only just above average.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Gui Finkler getting a free kick of target. After driving some over the bar or into the wall the former Victory man needs more pinpoint accuracy in his shots from the dead ball situation.


Western Sydney Wanderers v Newcastle Jets, Sunday – Spotless Stadium

At what will be their primary foster home for the next few years the Wanderers host the Jets, who despite injuries and pre-season turmoil, have been a delight to watch in the opening two rounds. Aside from 20 minutes in Adelaide the Wanderers have failed to look like the side from last season’s grand final. Tony Popovic is set to hand the captaincy to Dimas Delgado with the Spaniard taking over from the departed Nikolai Topor-Stanley.


Big game for: Game two of Labinot Haliti’s return. A sliver of time off the bench against Brisbane was one of the many positives for the Novocastrians as Haliti returned from an ACL injury and with attacking depth coach Mark Jones has many positives no matter the result here.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Some humility. Brendon Santalab knew he had done the wrong thing when he collected James Holland on Friday night and not getting sent off. The Wanderers forward went on to the a pivotal role in the come-back win and afterwards simply apologised to Holland for his rash challenge. All of that happened except the last part, instead of apologising Santalab gave it the ‘that’s football’. His fellow professional deserved more.


The betting bit – One serious one not

Not trusting our eyes are seeing Newcastle in round one cost us when we discarded them for an as yet unproven Wellington (at least this season). Important lesson (re) learned if a side plays well and doesn’t win if they are at home next week trust that. Adelaide did well last week at home and get the nod here ($2.35) into a ‘new home’ tifo on Sunday evening at ‘temporary Wanderland.’


Record: 0/2

Profit: -20 (ten units per investment)


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Golf Capital – Steele wins opener as Knox goes wide for World Cup teammate


A collection of my golf thoughts from the week with tournaments around the world including the first event of the PGA Tour’s wraparound season which concluded in dramatic fashion.


Opening drive:


American Brendan Steele produced a closing round of 65 to win at the Silverado Resort course in the opening PGA Tour event the Safeway Open (NB: great trophy). It broke a five-year tour drought for Steele with the California native picking up three consecutive birdies at the end of his final round to overhaul third-round leader Patton Kizzire. 30 year-old Kizzire found trouble on 16 but recovered with a par however his waywardness on the final hole meant he couldn’t take advantage of the par five 18th hole (which was gettable for a birdie as Steele proved) and missed the chance to send the tournament into a playoff. The PGA Tour heads to Malaysia this week for the CIMB Classic which was won by Justin Thomas last year and is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour.


In-form Alex Noren won the British Masters but the two-stroke victory at The Grove near Watford didn’t come easily for the Swede after he dropped two shots in four holes mid-round (between 8 and 11) but steadied for his fourth win in 17 months and third triumph since July.


After a period of known winners on the LPGA it was a breakthrough victory for Carlota Ciganda but not before high drama as the Spaniard saw a five-shot lead evaporate after a host of errors late in her round. But American Alison Lee bogeyed the last after her approach bounced into the water and the event went to extra holes. Ciganda’s birdie back on 18, which the duo played for the fifth time in the week was enough for a first tour title for the Pamplonan.


The LPGA wasn’t the only tour which went to a playoff with Thai golfer Pavit Tangkamolpraset beating well performed Indian player Anirban Lahiri in the Macau Open, a tournament played on some of the driest greens one will ever see for a professional tournament at this level.


The European Tour stages the Portugual Masters this weekend whilst Sei Young Kim attempts to defend her crown at the Blue Bay LPGA held on China’s Hainan Island. On the PGA Tour of Australasia the Brisbane Golf Club hosts the Queensland Open won in 2015 by Wauchope’s David Bransdon.


Player performance notes:

Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me and/or are related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The PGA Tour heads to Malaysia for the CIMB Classic at the TPC Kuala Lumpur West course.


20 and under: Patrick Reed. If the American comes to hand after a break following his Ryder Cup heroics Reed could easily sweep to victory here


20 and under: Justin Thomas. The defending champion here finished four shots from the winner at the Safeway Open. If not for an opening round 75 he could have been well in contention.


20 and under: Kevin Na. Finished inside the Fed Ex Cup top 30 last season and did well in California finishing seventh to Steele on Sunday. Has done well here before.


20 to 50: Gary Woodland. Woodland had a best placing of second last year on tour with four top ten finishes. Must be close to his first win since 2013 and he did get beaten in a playoff at this tournament in 2014.


20 to 50: Jhonattan Vegas. A winner on tour last season with five top ten placings. He missed the cut last weekend on his season return but still shot under par so it wasn’t a terrible seasonal return.


20 to 50: Branden Grace. The South African disappointed in Macau, but so did some of the other big names, and he ranks highly in par four scoring which will be key stat on this track.


100 to 200: Harold Varner III. Varner last weekend started better than last season when he was only finished T48 in the season opener placing T15 on the weekend. Has an early tee-off time for round one, evening allowing for the compressed timings due to the smaller than usual field it could be advantageous


500 to 1001: Danny Chia. The local was T13 in this tournament previously and won for the first time on the Asian Tour last year.


Greens in regulation

The Japanese golfer Hideki Matsuyama won his home open on the weekend in Saitama. It was the first time he’s played the tournament in four years and his assessment of the importance of the event (no doubt revered by many in Japan) after recording a three-stroke triumph was brutal to say the least. “They say this is a major domestic event but this is not what I am after. I see this as a passing point. My goal is to win at the four major championships” The 24 year-old PGA Tour regular goes around in the Malaysian event this weekend.



Tap in

Scot Russell Knox was an interesting exclusion from the European Ryder Cup team with the PGA tour regular who won twice last season missing from Darren Clarke’s team. Ironically, Knox has now made an interesting selection of his own for another team’s event. The 31 year-old from Inverness has picked good friend Duncan Stewart as his partner for the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne next month. Knox, ranked 19 in the world, has bypassed three players ranked higher than world number 307 Stewart, to select a friend he played junior golf with. It’s a laudable choice for Knox who, despite their significant ranking difference, has spoken of a desire to improve the professional life of his former North District amateur teammate. “I feel like this has the potential to change Duncan’s life. I feel like he could easily be in my shoes, and vice versa, and if he was in my shoes, he would’ve picked me.” Comfort and team cohesion are buzzwords for team golf selections so well done to Knox and good luck to the duo at Kingston Heath.
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A-League 1,000: The Derbies Edition


1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on round two of the A-League which sees the second Derby game for the season taking place on Saturday night and sees the champs, Adelaide, at home for the first time this campaign.


Adelaide United v Western Sydney Wanderers, Friday – Beer Sauce Burger Stadium

Three and a half seasons in Melbourne saw Jesse Makarounas yield only 36 matches for the Victory but the midfielder pounced on a Newcastle error and helped the champs earn a point in unconvincing fashion against the Jets. Guillermo Amor will be happy his side are facing the Wanderers who were at sea as Sydney FC outplayed them to win 4-0 but the Spaniard’s side is still has huge room for improvement. Nikolai Topor-Stanley is set to join UAE side Hatta Sports Club but the defender didn’t feature last weekend anyway and all of Tony Popovic’s side need to improve. Japanese recruit Jumpei Kusukami was a notable good performer in his A-League bow.


Big game for: Defensive tactics. Brendan Hamill was played out of position and it showed in Sydney’s goal-scoring and needs rectifying this weekend. Hamill will likely play in the central of defence here.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Week four for Adelaide? James Holland and Sergi Guardiola have only arrived in the last fortnight or so before game one. Combinations with their teammates will take some time to come together.


Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners, Saturday – Allianz Stadium

Graham Arnold’s side play in four different cities and two countries between now and the end of the month with games in Canberra (FFA Cup v Canberra Olympic), Wellington and Newcastle before they return to Sydney so winning home games, something they struggled with last season is important. Last year’s Central Coast Mariners would likely have gone to water had they been 3-0 down away from home in a match but Paul Okon’s side, aided by some relaxed Perth defence, rallied to jag a point in Perth so can take some confidence into this fixture however for a team that’s performed poorly in the last year or so it’s important not to overreact to a positive result. However the Mariners do get Fabio Ferreira back from injury.


Big game for: Jacques Faty was short of match fitness last weekend according to Okon but when things went dire for the Mariners Jake McGing (who did score against Sydney FC last campaign) performed capably in that role if Okon is looking to making a tactical change in the starting eleven.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Plenty of goals. Across three games last season the Mariners conceded nine goals to Sydney FC including a 4-1 defeat but they did register a 2-2 result in March coming from 2-0 down with six minutes left to snare a point.


Melbourne Victory v Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships, Saturday – Southern Cross Station Arena

Both Victorian sides return to Melbourne after away games to start the season, but Kevin Muscat’s Melbourne Victory should have come back with a win as their cross-town rivals did. If not for a Luke DeVere goal which stole a point for Brisbane they would of. The Victory controlled large parts of the game but often got caught out going wide and losing possession. The light blues will not get the same leeway on the wings as they did against Wellington with Victory’s wide players more experienced than Phoenix right back Jacob Tratt and left back Adam Parkhouse both stepping up from the NPl (and in Parkhouse’s place, playing out of position.) John Van’t Schip’s side may need to go through the middle more and will want to continue to test out new victory defender Alan Bora.


Big game for: Late goals. The Victory concede more goals than they score late in matches as pointed out by Ben Cuzzupe so perhaps Kevin Muscat’s side need to have some sort of alert horn sound at the 60 minute mark to wake them up. Like a shouty Poznan perhaps.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: All the money in world but not knowing the laws around playing uniform etc is baffling. Check your uniform before the game chaps, even if you are on the bench.


Newcastle Jets v Brisbane Roar, Sunday – McDonald Jones Stadium

The tenure of Mark Jones in Newcastle started with a point and the fixture list helps his side who now face a Matt McKay-less Roar after Brisbane snatched a point against Melbourne Victory but not before the Roar skipper had been sent off. John Aloisi’s side was good and pressing Melbourne last weekend so Newcastle can expect more of this. Former Roar midfielder Devante Clut laid on a nice ball which nearly saw Newcastle score late in their game against Adelaide and Jones will be looking for more of this from the 20 year-old if he starts. Given the injury issues the Jets have that’s a likely chance. Former Melbourne Heart mentor Aloisi is likely to call on Jacob Pepper to replace McKay this weekend.


Big game for: Putting a team on the park. Ex Jets coach Scott Miller was plagued with injuries and suspensions at time in his tenure and things have started off the same for Jones with three players injured and two unavailable before the match. It could take a few weeks for Newcastle to field a consistent eleven.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Michael Theo. The one-time Socceroo squad member was back as Brisbane’s number one on the weekend after Jamie Young spent plenty of last season as the Roar’s main keeper. The A-League’s most successful shot-stopper will be ruing let one by and what a clean sheet here.



Perth Glory v Wellington Phoenix, Sunday – nib Stadium

Wellington suffered a repeat of their opening game of the last A-League season as Ernie Merrick’s side were beaten by a goal despite only playing against ten men for part of the match. Absentees aside Wellington will rue several of their missed chances. Speaking of last season it’s notable the Glory lost their first home game last season to Wellington so despite the draw to Paul Okon’s side the result was an improvement on 2015/16’s first home game for Perth. It’s hard to know how Kenny Lowe’s team will respond after throwing away a three-goal lead last weekend but one-time Phoenix keeper Liam Reddy (okay yes he has played for most times) will be kept busy if Wellington can turn out the sort of performances they did in pre-season when their best eleven started games.


Big game for: Whoever backs up from the All Whites games. If all of the Nix New Zealand representatives return from their USA trip in shape to play, even off the bench, it will be a much different side which is named by Merrick with changes in defence, midfield and attack likely.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: A challenge for TV ratings with the plethora of Sunday night options, and a 9pm kickoff in New Zealand. These will be crucial games for the Nix ‘metrics’ after a weekend in which they recorded their highest home game rating on Fox Sports since round one of 2013/14 when Alessandro del Piero appeared for Sydney FC.



The betting bit – One serious one not

Slow start for TBB with a clumsy goal doing us in but if Wellington get most of their key All Whites back $4.50 seems reasonable. Last week delivered in spades with comedy goals in Perth and Newcastle which cost both home teams a possible victory, good to see the teams giving the neutral fans what they want. With teams still getting used to each other could we see more of the same this weekend?


Record: 0/1

Profit: -$10 (ten units per investment)


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Golf Capital – Hatton conquers the Old Course, no Tiger in Napa


A collection of my golf thoughts from the week, primarily reflecting on European Tour events and news of Tiger Woods’ aborted returned.

Opening drive:

A tour breakthrough for Tryrell Hatton and a win for Ryder Cupper Brandt Snedeker in Fiji. These would probably be the lead any other week but after exuding confidence in recent weeks it has been announced Tiger Woods’ return is on hold until at least December with the American withdrawing from the US PGA Tour’s opening event of the wraparound season in California this week plus next month’s event in Turkey. Both his agent Mark Steinberg and close confidante Notah Begay III have said physically Woods is fine but that aspects of his play, such as his short game, aren’t up to tournament standard. It’s a disappointment for the fans heading along to Napa Valley for the Safeway Open (last year known as the Open) but it’s good news for graduate Max Homa. Homa, 25, was the first alternate and now gets a spot in the field for the event. A native of Burbank, California Homa will be looking to add to his win on the second-tier tour in July and he had placed in the top ten of this tournament before. Despite the absence of Woods there is plenty of intrigue in the event with recent Ryder Cup winners Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar among the field.


On the European Tour there were wins on the weekend for England’s Hatton and American Snedeker. Hatton, 24, broke through for his first European Tour and significant professional win in over 100 starts winning by four strokes after he closed two rounds at St Andrews’ Old Course in -16 to win the Dunhill Links event. In Fiji Snedeker outclassed a group of players who usually ply their trade on the PGA Tour of Australasia (which the event was co-sanctioned with) with Kiwi Michael Hendry who claimed second and is now leading the local Order of Merit. Hendry heads to the Japan Open this weekend which features Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama at the event to be held in Saitama’s Sayama Golf Club.


Doing well in the wind and rain Ha Na Jang scrambled home to win the LPGA’s Taiwan Championship to beat Chinese star Shanshan Feng by one stroke. South Korean Jang joins Ariya Jutanugarn and Lydia Ko as the only players to win at least three times on the LPGA tour in 2016. Moving on from Taiwan Incheon in South Korea hosts the Keb Hana Bank Championship this week. American Lexi Thompson won the tournament in 2015. Staying in Asia Thai golfer Poom Saksansin easily won the Indonesian Masters in Jakarta on the Asian Tour finishing at 18 under, five clear of the field, and vaulting up 219 places in the world rankings to 329. This week’s event on the Asian Tour is the Venetian Macao Open and last year Australia Scott Hend was victorious in the Macau-based tournament.. This year South African Branden Grace (world number 14) is the headline act in a tournament which also sees the return from injury of Englishman Ian Poulter.


Player performance notes:

Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me and/or are related to capital investment if that’s your thing. We stay on the European Tour with the British Masters in Hertfordshire near Watford with the season-ending events a matter of weeks away.


20 and under: Ross Fisher. Played second fiddle to Hatton in Scotland but playing well enough top contend again. Very close to winning on Tour this season a few times including a playoff defeat in the European Open.


20 to 50: Tyrell Hatton. After saluting last weekend, when we highlighted him, Hatton’s form mid this year shows he can put in good performances back-to-back. The Englishman can go close again here.


20 to 50: Matthew Fitzpatrick. Defending champion, albeit at a different venue last year, Fitzpatrick may need time after the Ryder Cup but he clearly has experience at winning towards the end of a long season.


20 to 50: Andrew Johnston. A winner on Tour already this season the hugely-popular ‘Beef’ recently secured his US PGA Tour card so the fact he’s chosen to play the tournament after a hectic period is significant.


20 to 50: Alexander Levy. On Tuesday night Levy won another of the European Tour’s innovative formats claiming victory in a floodlit one-hole knockout event. However, more importantly, he beat Fisher in the afore-mentioned playoff last month so is on form in a regular format as well.


50 to 100: Joakim Lagergren, The Swede has won one of the better second tier events, the Northern Ireland Open, in Europe two years ago and played well on the links course last weekend.


50 to 100: Marc Warren. The Scot was fifth at Dunhill Links and it was as much-needed result. Warren can now push for making the season-ending championship after securing his tour card with the result in his homeland.


100 to 200: Paul Peterson. Accuracy plays an important role at this venue (The Grove) and American Peterson, already a winner in 2016, ranks well in this stat and has an early tee time on Thursday.


Greens in regulation

The elevation of Perth golfer Curtis Luck continued in the amateur ranks with the Cottesloe-based player winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur title on Sunday in Incheon after he was seven shots back heading into the final round. Assured of a spot in events such as the Masters next year Luck adds this title to his Eisenhower Trophy team event victory and individual US amateur crown. Fellow Australian players Brett Coletta (Victoria) and Cameron Davis (NSW) will rue their dip in form at the back end of the tournament which cost one of them a potential spot in the Masters. Luck will play the Asian Tour event in Macau this weekend.


Tap in

Whilst Curtis Luck represents the new breed in Australian golf it’s a player towards the end of their pro career that caught my eye watching the event in Fiji. Veteran Robert Allenby finished in a tie for 12th and it was his best result for some time. Allenby missed the cut 21 times from the 23 tournaments he played on the US PGA Tour in the recently concluded season with a best result of T63 in the Canadian Open. This resulted in his ranking declining from 592 at the end of 2015 to 1222, but he was 1460 before his effort at Natadola on the weekend. Allenby’s off-field issues have been well documented but playing-wise one wonders what is motivating the 45 year-old to continue after such a sharp decline.

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A-League 1,000: The Return Edition


1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on round one of the A-League which starts in Brisbane and sees the defending champions, Adelaide, travel to Newcastle to conclude the weekend’s games.


Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory, Friday – Suncorp Stadium

Melbourne’s solid pre-season has seen them progress to the semi-finals of the FFA Cup so have been playing games of consequence for a month or so and should be tuned up for this one. Brisbane on the went out at the round of 32 stage to the FFA Cup falling to defeat to Perth 2-0 however they did go one to beat the Glory in a recent trial. John Aloisi’s side seems to have benefitted from been able to plan their pre-season after their Cup exit as the 4-0 win over Perth would indicate. One great story is the return of Roar defender Luke DeVere to the top flight who has endured a frustrating period after he suffered a thigh injury in one of those big name off-season games in June of 2015.


Big game for: Brisbane’s fans. Given the ongoing off-season shenanigans it will be interesting to see what fans turn out, and how vocal they are on Friday night.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Seeing how the Victory go at one of their hoodoo grounds, Suncorp Stadium. Like Hunter Stadium they have struggled at the Queensland venue in recent times.


Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships, Saturday – Westpac Stadium

With round one of the competition during an international windows it means Nix coach Ernie Merrick is shorn of five players here and the visitor’s will be without Tim Cahill. The Phoenix have logged two wins in pre-season over the Mariners but did fall to defeat to the Wanderers in the FFA Cup coughing up a 2-0 lead. Melbourne’s light blues are into the FFA Cup semi-finals and have already scored eight goals in the knockout competition in three games so it could be a goal-fest on Saturday. It’s an interesting A-League debut in prospect for Danish defender for Michael Jakobsen who will have to deal with a winds (although only expected to be 25 km/h) and Gui Finkler in his club debut so it’s an exciting contest in prospect.


Big game for: New South Wales NPL. Jacob Tratt is likely to have a lock on right back spot during the season but former Manly player Adam Parkhouse, known for his goal-scoring, will play left back on Saturday evening given Tom Doyle’s absence.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: A ‘show us your Tim’ tifo? Given the FFA want more people attending Phoenix fixtures the decision to deny having the game transferred to a free weekend for both sides later in the season is baffling. Having the big Phoenix players missing and denying Kiwi fans a chance to see a one-time Oceania junior national team star is a nonsense. The FFA must, as a minimum shift impacted games (if not the round) for the integrity of the league. I’ll be back in November to complain about this again.


Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC, Saturday – ANZ Stadium

The first Sydney Derby of the season will be played at ANZ Stadium with both sides having contrasting pre-seasons. A fairly full-strength Wanderers outfit was beaten 2-0 by the Jets in Cessnock a fortnight ago whilst Sydney FC have had their new recruits perform well and help guide them to the FFA Cup semi-finals. With an Asian Champions League spot up for grabs to the FFA Cup winner Sydney’s last four game against Canberra Olympic is big, but it won’t be a distraction at this stage. Maybe in a few weeks, but not now. Lachlan Scott scored on multiple occassions in the FFA Cup for the Wanderers who have Kerem Bulut returning to the club. The departure of Mark Bridge could be felt in this game, especially as Sydney are spoilt for choice with Danny Vukovic and Vedran Janjetovic their top goal-keepers.


Big game for: Wanderers’ attackers. Despite’s Scott’s results in August with no goals from the team in a trial two weeks ago and only Dimas netting in their FFA Cup quarter final defeat Tony Popovic’s outfit will want an early goal to settle their nerves. Recruit Nicolas Martinez will have an interesting first A-League experience.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Sydney improvement. Bernie Ibini isn’t likely to be at full match fitness for the sky blues in game one so anything Sydney do in game one will be improved upon in terms of their attack which will have great depth if they remain fit this season.


Perth Glory v Central Coast Mariners, Saturday – nib Stadium

This match is a repeat of round one last season when the two sides met in Gosford. Central Coast won on that occasions 3-2 – it was one of only three wins all season for the side now coached by Paul Okon. The shambolic off-season which we noted in our season preview means the Mariners new boss Paul Okon is in charge of a team with players he didn’t recruit and having lost some of their better performers from last season. Perth have a very experienced backline and Diego Castro, the reigning Johnny Warren medallist, will link up with Adam Taggart for the first time in a competitive game for Perth this season, which certainly has the potentially to be akin to Mooy-Fornaroli in terms of assist to the goal-scorer combination that duo had in Melbourne last season.


Big game for: No injuries. A baffling decision by the Mariners to play a pre-season game at a private school in Sydney on a ground (presumably) chopped up from a season of rugby union has seen Jake Adelson go down with a second season-ending injury. Quite why the club didn’t play the fixture at an NPL venue is puzzling. If you want to support the local game surely it’s better to pay venue hire to them compared to a private school. Best of luck to Jake in his recovery.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Defender Dino Djulbic scored twice in the FFA Cup this season and Perth have a variety of set piece options for goal-scorers



Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United, Sunday – Hunter Stadium

The Reds head to Newcastle after they were tipped out of the FFA Cup by Queensland team Redlands and face a Newcastle team which, despite their off-field upheaval, have performed well in pre-season. The Jets beat the Wanderers recently, won their three games played in China after an early FFA Cup exit and had recruited well given their ownership uncertainty. It’s a big call to say the Jets are a certainty to win this game even allowing for Adelaide’s off-season losses and the injury that means they won’t have to face Macelo Carrusca but the Jets did well at the start of last season so they might be a have a chance to replicate that on Sunday.


Big game for: Jack Duncan, the Jets shot-stopper has played more games (nine) for Australia’s Under 23 side in the last three years than he has played senior club games (eight) since the beginning of the 2013/14 season. Back at the Jets and with Ben Kennedy absent (Achilles injury) Duncan has the chance to make the spot his own.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Adelaide could see more squad moves before the game on Sunday with former Jet Taylor Regan to possibly join them on the weekend to provide defensive cover for the injured Jordan Elsey.


The betting bit – One serious one not

Staying with the last game and given their recent win over the Wanderers and Adelaide’s changeover Newcastle ($3.50) to win at home looks a very reasonable opportunity into a comedy goal somewhere in round one. New teams/combinations, wet conditions expected at some venues there has to be some comedy value heading our way.


2015/16 record: 19/30

Profit: $84.05 (ten units per investment)


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A-League season preview – Gotta have a song


Last season’s preview was inspired by The Streets but this time around as the A-League tells us ‘You’ve gotta have a team’ we have decided each team has ‘gotta have a song.’ The songs are not necessarily predictions but may contain causes for optimism or thoughts of impending doom for the season ahead.

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ADELAIDE UNITED: Drake – Back to Back

Adelaide United have one example of A-League history which could support them winning the grand final again. Brisbane Roar are the only club to win back to back A-League grand finals 2011 and 2012 and two sides (the afore-mentioned Brisbane and Melbourne Victory) have made back-to-back grand finals. The Victory doing so in 2009 and 2010. In not a big sample size there is some cause for Adelaide fans thinking they can repeat their title triumph, or at least make the final game. Notably in the history of the NSL Perth, Wollongong Wolves, South Melbourne and Melbourne Knights all won back-to-back GFs in the period since 1994. The title winners have added Henrique who was Brisbane’s super-sub. He should act as a good replacement for Pablo Sanchez who left the club in the off-season. Kamau was given a chance to explore opportunities overseas and ended up with the Manchester City-backed Melbourne franchise. Whilst losing Kamau and Bruce Djite is a blow the exit of Craig Goodwin, who has already started well in Rotterdam, might be the most significant. Ben Garrucio, recruited from the Melbourne franchise, bombing down the wings from left back could cover some of the work Goodwin used to do, but the bar is set very high. This may mean Adelaide will have to be more clinical in front of goal if they are to remain the benchmark coupled with defender Jordan Elsey’s recent season-ending injury Adelaide has issues in defence but the addition of 25 year-old Sergi Guardiola, a goal-scorer from Spain’s second-tier, could be the key off-season move.


Prediction: 8th


BRISBANE ROAR: Bruce Springsteen – Atlantic City

Brisbane Roar had no right to get within a game of the grand final last season, after significant upheaval before, and during their 2015-16 campaign. However, former Melbourne Heart mentor John Aloisi marshalled his team to perform above outside expectations, and only a pulsating 5-4 defeat in extra-time at the hands of the Wanderers in Sydney saw them miss the decider. Jamie McLaren’s double would normally win any other knockout game but it wasn’t to be for the Roar. With the Bakrie Group on their latest final warning about capitalising the club, a shrewd Aloisi has gone about trying to secure their financial future by recruiting a clutch of rising stars. Left back Connor O’Toole (who we profiled a few months ago), fellow defender Kye Rowles and former youth team star in Melbourne Joey Katebian all have the pathways and form to do well in the A-League, which can benefit Brisbane first up on the field and then, with any luck, financially later on if they get a move abroad. However, Aloisi will be hoping he doesn’t have to balance the books on on-sell percentages. The addition of Brett Holman will also be of great worth in developing attackers Brandon Borello, Katebian and McLaren.


Prediction: 5th


CENTRAL COAST MARINERS: Public Enemy – Harder Than You Think

No team in the competition has more to do to redeem their fans faith after their on-field performances in the last 12 months than the Mariners. January 30 was the last time they won a game, and UEFA Champions League winner Luis Garcia scored in that match. For their part, the Mariners have started the season by sacking coach Tony Walmsley after an FFA Cup defeat to state league opposition, then backed it up by throwing out old stories dressed up as new ones in the week before the season starts. There’s little doubt that it’s been a poor pre-season from club officials. It remains to be seen if the on-field performances will distract from the off-pitch shenanigans.  New gaffer Paul Okon has struggled managing Australian youth team sides, and will rely on a trio of recruits from Sydney FC ­– Ivan Necevski, Jacques Faty and Mikael Taveres, plus former Phoenix frontman Blake Powell, to supply a comtent spine. With players like 19 year-old midfielder Liam Rose (now featuring in his third A-:League season) entering crucial stages of their development as footballers, Okon’s ability to coach youngsters will be judged pretty harshly here, if there;s little tangible evidence of improvement. In a league with no relegation Okon has room to move, but a return of three wins – or worse – could be as much a blow to Okon’s coaching career as the futures of his playing group. Mikael Taveres, plus former Phoenix frontman Blake Powell, to supply a competent spine. With players like 19 year-old midfielder Liam Rose (now featuring in his third A-League season) entering crucial stages in their development as footballers, Okon’s ability to coach youngsters will be judged pretty harshly here, if there’s little tangile evidence of improvement. In a league with no relegation Okon has room to move, but a return of only three wins – or worse -could be as much as a blow to Okon’s coaching career asthe future of his playing group.


Prediction: 10th




Melbourne’s light blues have been busy in the off-season, with their recruitment a focal point of talk around the league. Joining the club in time to feature in the FFA Cup, the City Football Group-owned club was able to acquire a player who made his name as a youngster of a (now) National Premier League club, before going on to be an influential clubman playing overseas. Having once helped out a country of his family connection in international football, this player is widely respected everywhere he plays and his goals are celebrated with much fanfare. We are, of course, talking about the acquisition of former Wellington Phoenix utility, and Maltese international Manny Muscat. John van’t Schip’s team have also signed Socceroo Tim Cahill. History tells us goals won’t actually be their problem having netted 63 last campaign. Whilst the likelihood of that happening again is remote, they must shore up their defence and Danish recruit Mikael Jacobsen – who has ironically already scored in FFA Cup action – will play a key role at the back.


Prediction: 3rd (beaten grand finallists)



MELBOURNE VICTORY: Foo Fighters – Times Like These

Looking to return to their title-winning ways, Melbourne Victory welcomes back Marco Rojas as the Kiwi international returns from an underwhelming spell in Europe that was marred by injury and periodic loan moves. Still only 24, the Johnny Warren Medal winner from 2012/13 offers some level of replacement for his All-Whites teammate Kosta Barbarouses, who has headed back to Wellington. James Troisi is a great addition and Mitch Austin’s arrival means the Mariners are without arguably their best player from last season. Melbourne has also added significant depth out wide, typified by the fact Austin was replaced in a recent FFA Cup tie by Fahid Ben Khalfallah who was a first team regular last season. The recruitment of Alan Baro from Spain’s third tier raised some eyebrows pedigree-wise, but if he is able to at least get to a level of consistency similar to what Frenchman Matthieu Delpierre displayed, it will mean the Victory defence can match their attack in terms of expectation. The midfield is settled, and a fit Carl Valeri will be hugely beneficial.


Prediction: 1st (Grand Final winners)



NEWCASTLE JETS: Crowded House – Whispers and Moans

Newcastle Jets coach Scott Miller nearly had his first full pre-season in charge but was promptly sacked five weeks out from the start of the new competition. Despite missing the playoffs, Miller’s side improved greatly on their abject 2014/15 season last campaign but the pre-season tour to China – primarily a function to promote owner Martin Lee’s acquisition of the club – ended with three victories before the bust-up between Miller and assistant coach Luciano Trani came to light and both left the club within days of each other. New boss Mark Jones will need to ensure key additions Andrew Hoole (returning to the club from Sydney FC), Wayne Brown (once of Fulham’s academy) and Leningrad-born striker Aleksandr Kokko develop attacking combinations to add to the league-worst 28 goals they scored last season. Their backline needs to focus on not getting sent off. Yes, we’re looking at you, Nigel Boogaard. Hangovers from the ham-fisted manner in which the club was run during the Tinkler era were starting to be fixed under Miller; the club acquired their first set of GPS units, and no longer have to borrow them from the local university. It’s a shame Miller won’t get to see the fruits of his labour, and the locals will only take it so far that Jones is ‘one of their own’. Results must come, and the disquiet is already/still (delete as appropriate) brewing.


Prediction: 9th



PERTH GLORY: Guns N’ Roses Patience

Forgotten Socceroo Adam Taggart has been waiting for the chance to re-join Perth Glory after a wasted last two seasons when he was with a dysfunctional club in England (you must read this from The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor about one of his old bosses at Fulham) before a loan deal meant, despite having signed for Perth earlier this year, he’d exceeded FIFA limits on how many clubs a player can play with in a season. Got that. Elsewhere coach Kenny Lowe had an odd off-season recruiting-wise, thinking he had secured Socceroo Chris Herd in July before the 27 year-old reneged on the deal citing personal reasons (he has recently joined UK League One side Gillingham). The addition of Rostyn Griffiths, though, is a positive with the midfielder returning to the club after a stint at Dutch side Roda JC. At times during last year, Hungarian duo Gyorgy Sandor and Krisztian Vadocz were very effective, so their departure was somewhat of a surprise. Whilst one shouldn’t panic about pre-season results, Perth getting turned over 4-0 by Brisbane in late September should be mildly concerning. But the West Australians do still have reigning Johnny Warren medalist Diego Castro on the books.


Prediction: 6th


SYDNEY FC: Motorhead – Ace of Spades

Last year’s under-achievers Sydney FC will look for a strong league and Cup run this season having mustered only a miserly eight wins in season 2015/16 having made the decider the season before. Coach Graham Arnold was swift once Sydney FC finished an unsuccessful season when they missed the playoffs by seven points with eight players out the door. Bernie Ibini returns with the former Mariner on-loan from Club Brugge (although he is yet to return to full fitness.) Brazilian Bobo is another in the category of Newcastle’s Morten Nordstrand having carved out a more than creditable career overseas, primarily in Turkey. His early work in the FFA Cup in their quarter final triumph shows the former Gremio forward has arrived in good form. Hard to say yet if he will reach the heights of a Besart Berisha, but hopefully Bobo doesn’t stomp on players like the hot-headed Melbourne forward has been wont to do. At the back Danny Vukovic’s return to Sydney for personal reasons gives Sydney the best depth between the sticks in the competition.


Prediction: 2nd



Two concerns for Wellington Phoenix will be the loss of Albert Riera, and what seems to be a very un-challenging pre-season schedule. Reliable midfielder Riera surprisingly retired having debuted in the A-League at the age of 29 and was a key cog in the Nix Machine. The Spaniard then promptly un-retired in mid-September electing to play for Auckland City in the Stirling Sports Premiership (NZ’s domestic competition.) Maybe the Nix could have offered him minimum wage to just play home games if he didn’t fancy the travel? Playing the Mariners twice in the pre-season after getting tipped out of the FFA Cup doesn’t exactly scream difficult in terms of tuning the team up for the rigours of the ten-team competition, but Ernie Merrick’s team did play a club side in Beijing. Kosta Barbarouses returns and brings former Victory teammate Gui Finkler with him, giving Wellington an impact at free kicks. The Phoenix have also contributed to National Premier Leagues in Australia, recruiting three players; Ryan Lowry (WA), Adam Parkhouse (NSW) and Jacob Tratt (NSW) – the most of any A-League club this off-season. Right back Tratt is likely to feature the most out of the trio.


Prediction: 7th




Australia’s only Asian Champions League winner – the Western Sydney Wanderers – have recruited Japanese midfielder Jumpei Kusukami this season and aside from the obvious benefit of adding an experienced J-League club player to their squad, the Wanderers should be applauded for the move as it makes them the only A-League club with a (non-Australian) AFC player on their books on a full time deal recruited by the head coach*. It’s not good enough for the rest of the League, but well done to Tony Popovic. Elsewhere, the Red and Blacks (who will shuffle between three home venues this season due to the construction of the new Parramatta Stadium) have recruited Spanish defender Aritz Borda and Uruguyan holding midfielder Bruno Pinatares but will need to find their new Romeo Castelen to inspire the fans with every touch. That player could be returning forward Kerem Bulut, who scored five goals in nine games for the club before leaving to join Greek side Iraklis. Still only 24, Bulut has the ability to be top-goal scorer for not just the club, but also the league.


Prediction: 4th



*South Korean Danny Choi has joined Adelaide but the 21 year-old (recently of Blacktown City) is only an injury replacement for Marcelo Carrusca, whilst Chinese winger Ma Leilei is really only at the Jets at the behest of owner Martin Lee. Leilei – the former Tianjin Teda player – doesn’t even have an entry on the squad pages of the club website.


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