Reigning Tailor-made Building Services NT PGA Championship winner Daniel Nisbet believes the 2019 title could belong to anyone, as a high-calibre field prepares for competition at Palmerston Golf Course from 22-25 August.
Nisbet will headline one of the strongest fields in recent years with 2017 winner Travis Smyth, Fiji International champions Jason Norris and Steven Jeffress, and 2018 Vic Open winner Simon Hawkes all featuring in the 120-player line-up.
Following a dominant performance in 2018, which included a 19-under tournament total, Nisbet believes defending his crown will be a tough assignment.
“I think our tier two events are incredibly strong, so it could really be anyone this year,” Nisbet said.
“There are at least 10 guys who can go really low around that course as we have seen before, but I really want to be the lowest again.”
With three ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia victories to his name since the start of 2018 and a string of strong results in between, Nisbet expects to head into the event with added expectation.
“I’m feeling nice and refreshed coming up to Darwin this year. And defending the title will bring a whole new level to the event for me, which I didn’t have last year, so there is some extra excitement,” he said.
“Fortunately to break up the build up, I’ll be taking part in another tournament leading in, which will be almost like a good distraction in the lead up. Hopefully it will help sharpen my game too.”
While a young crop of golfers will ascend to the top end this year, Western Australia’s Jarryd Felton believes the stalwarts of the sport will be the ones to beat, highlighting former European Tour player Matt Millar as one of the most consistent in recent years.
“The field is going to be very strong this year and, yes, most of us guys know who’s going to be competitive most weeks,” Felton said.
“With the field as strong as it is, I think it’s anyone’s game. But you can never go past the consistency of Matt Millar.”
Renowned for his regular top-10 results, Millar finished within the top five at last year’s Australian PGA Championship and national Open, and stands as a field favourite alongside Scott Laycock, Terry Pilkadaris, Peter Wilson and New Zealand’s Michael Long.
After winning the tournament as an amateur in 2017, New South Welshman Travis Smyth returns from a stint on the Asian Tour to take on some of Australia’s best, while local favourites James Nitties and Aaron Pike, 2019 SP PNG Open winner Peter Cooke and former PGA TOUR players Nick Flanagan and Michael Sim also bolster the line-up.
Looking to his own game, Felton identifies the NT PGA as a significant opportunity to get his season back on track and continue his strong form from earlier in the year.
“I just need to stay patient around the course and play my own game. I can’t allow myself to get too frustrated with bad breaks,” added the 24-year-old, who finished tied for fourth at this year’s Queensland PGA Championship.
“I’ve had a mixed year with some great play and very average play. I hope to steady that out this coming week with a solid performance.
“Unfortunately I just haven’t been able to get the reps in this year with the limited tournament play.”
The Tailor-made Building Services NT PGA Championship, which forms part of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia schedule, will be played at Palmerston Golf Course from 22-25 August.
The winner of the NT PGA Championship will receive full exemption on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia until the end of the 2020 season.
View the full field list for the NT PGA Championship at pga.org.au