IT’S JUST three weeks out from the 2012 US Masters and things are starting to get serious on the US PGA Tour.
Ten Aussies line up for the 2012 Transitions Championship at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida, this week with just three of those – Jason Day, Geoff Ogilvy and John Senden – already guaranteed a start at Augusta National.
For the other seven there are only two available pathways remaining to Magnolia Lane.
They either need to win the Transitions this weekend, the Arnold Palmer Invitational next week or the Shell Houston Open the week immediately preceding the Masters; or they need to do well enough over the next three weeks to be in the top 50 in the official golf world rankings the week before Augusta.
The seven playing this weekend hoping for one of those results are Marc Leishman, Greg Chalmers, Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Nick O’Hern, Matt Jones and Rod Pampling.
Getting into the top 50 will obviously be most viable for Chalmers, currently 59th, and Allenby, 64th. The only other Australian golfer currently in the top 100 is Marcus Fraser at 93rd.
There are currently six Aussie golfers in the Masters field with the three mentioned above joined by Aaron Baddeley, Adam Scott and young amateur Bryden Macpherson, in thanks to his British Amateur Championship win.
Day, Ogilvy and Senden will be hoping for good performances this weekend in the lead up to their Masters appearances.
Last year’s Masters joint runnerup Day is the top ranked at world No.7 while Senden is enjoying a career-high ranking of 28.
Ogilvy has had a very slow start to his year compared to his usual standard and sitting currently in 50th spot in the world rankings would really be sweating it out were it not for the fact his Masters and other performances last year guarantee him a place in all the Majors in 2012.
As golf writer Ben Everill has pointed out over at smh.com.au, Ogilvy hasn’t gone this far into a season without at least one top ten since 2004.
But Ogilvy apparently isn’t too phased, telling Everill he has been suffering a bit of a “hangover” from playing tournaments virtually right up until Christmas last year and believes his game is actually in pretty good shape.
“There’s no panic button,” Ogilvy said this week in Florida. “I actually kind of like how I’m playing. I know it’s a standard cliched answer but my scores aren’t really reflecting how I’m playing. My game has been getting better each time I’ve played and, while it’s not excellent, it is almost pretty good.”
The upcoming Masters should be all the incentive the 2006 US Open winner needs.
“After I came back from my shoulder and stomach problems [last year], I probably panicked a bit and played too much and then I played really deep into the year and the Presidents Cup in your home city takes more out of you than you think,” he said. “I played right up to Christmas almost and I need to dig deep to light the fire again.
“But I feel refreshed again now … and I’m sure by the time the Masters comes round, I’ll be super excited and back to my peak.”
Some of the other contenders at the Transitions this week include Luke Donald, Doral winner Justin Rose, reigning Masters champion Charl Swartzel, world No.6 Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker.
The 2012 Transitions Championship is being broadcast live in Australia on Fox Sports beginning Friday morning from 6 to 9.
The 2012 Transitions Championship Leaderboard2012 Transitions Championship Leaderboard