ISPS HANDA Super 6 Perth: A Winning Format

Tue 12 Feb 2019

ISPS HANDA Super 6 Perth: A Winning Format


By Olle Nordberg, founder of golf equipment survey company, Northmountain International. 

Perth, Australia, February 12: As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The modified format that mixes both stroke play and match play will be used at the 2019 ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth for the third consecutive year, proving that it has gained acceptance among golf aficionados.

Perhaps, it’s the unpredictability and excitement of the format.

Case in point: Brett Rumford and Kiradech Aphibarnrat won the 2017 and 2018 editions of the tournament in a vastly different manner.

Rumford was the leading player after three days of stroke play in 2017 at 17-under-par. He went on to win the knock-out match play rounds on Sunday.

Aphibarnrat, on the other hand, barely managed to squeeze through the first three rounds of stroke play at five-under-par for a tied-17th place, before emerging victorious in the Sunday match play. In a normal 72-hole stroke play format, a five-stroke deficit after three rounds would have been more challenging to overcome.

Neither Rumford (who is out injured) or Aphibarnrat (playing on the PGA Tour) will be in the field this week at Lake Karrinyup Country Club in Perth, but there’s a good chance that some of the following players in strong form will be in with a chance to win on Sunday afternoon

Justin Harding

Arguably the hottest player in the field, coming off a fourth-place finish in last week’s Vic Open on the European Tour and Australasian PGA Tour, as well as tied-11th at the Saudi International and tied-seventh at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the European tour. He is the highest ranked Asian Tour player on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) in the field at 65th.

Jazz Janewattanond

He is already a winner this year at the SMBC Singapore Open, and in doing so, broke into the top-100 on the OWGR. Jazz finished the 2018 Asian Tour season very strongly by finishing third at the Queen’s Cup Hosted by Jaidee Foundation, and 2nd at the BNI Indonesian Masters. He’s also pretty adept at match play, evident from his performance at the Friendship Cup between Thailand and Japan in late December, where he won all his five matches. He was in tied-10th going into the last round at the Vic Open last week, before falling back a bit in the last round.

Lucas Herbert

Herbert has had top-10 finishes in this event the last two years by finishing third in 2018 and tied-ninth in 2017. Both years, he finished tied-second after the stroke play rounds. Recently, he finished tied-seventh at the star-studded Omega Dubai Desert Classic in late January. Recent form and previous performances at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth put him in good stead.

A Numbers Game

From the statistics from the last few years, players who can hit Greens-In-Regulation (GIR) will have an edge at the Lake Karrinyup Country Club, at least, for the stroke play rounds. A couple of very strong players that ranked highly in this statistic on the 2018 Asian Tour should also be good picks for a possible victory this week:

Scott Vincent

The Zimbabwean finished fifth on the 2018 Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings, racking up nine top-10s during the season including three second-place finishes. Vincent was ranked third in GIR on the Asian Tour last with 73.8 per cent. He is very much due for a breakthrough win in 2019, evident from his solid statistics across the board last year. In addition to his GIR, he was also ranked commendably in Stroke Average (69.84, third on Tour), Putts per GIR (1.74, 12th), birdies (306, first), as well as Birdies per Round (4.43, third).

Jake McLeod

McLeod is the reigning Australasian PGA Tour Order of Merit Champion. In his rookie season on the Asian Tour, McLeod hit 70.7 per cent of his GIR (ranked 16th on Tour), and even more impressive was his Birdies per Round at 4.78 (second).

OWGR Watch

With lucrative events such as the World Golf Championships (WGC), Majors and the Player’s Championship looming, players will be jostling for top positions on the OWGR. Two members making a significant charge up the rankings are Harding and Jazz. They could make some big strides with some high finishes in the weeks to come.

Of course, Kiradech Aphibarnrat will already be eligible for all of the above.

In Harding’s case, he is currently 65th on the OWGR and is very close to qualifying for the Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas at the end of March, where the top-64 available players get a spot. The cutoff date is still five weeks away, but another top finish in Perth this week could put him inside this number. The U.S. PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in New York on May 16 to 19 will usually give a Special Exemption to players ranked within the top-100 of the OWGR. Harding earned one of these spots last year after winning the Bank BRI Indonesia Open and Royal Cup consecutively in 2018.

Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand

Jazz, now in 77th place on the OWGR, will need to do a bit more to get inside the top-64 for a spot at the Dell Technologies Match Play. However, a couple of high finishes in Perth or at the upcoming New Zealand Open could edge him over the line. Jazz is also currently in line for one of the Special Exemption spots into the U.S. PGA Championship.

For both players, what’s more desirable is sure the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Although, it will be a tough task.  To get an invitation to the year’s first Major, they have to be inside the top-50 on the OWGR as of March 31st.

The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass from March 14 to 17 in Jacksonville, Florida is another event that gives exemptions to the top-50 on the OWGR. The cutoff is coming up soon on March 4 after the New Zealand Open, and a huge move up the rankings would require some stellar play in the three weeks ahead.