Preview: Johnnie Walker Classic

The European Tour continues to trot the globe as it travels this week to Perth, Australia for the Johnnie Walker Classic. New Zealand’s Mark Brown defends the title he won last year in New Delhi, India.

Camilo Villegas at Johnnie Walker

Lowdown: So far this century the Johnnie Walker Classic has been contested in Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, China and India. This year the tournament returns to The Vines Resort & Country Club in Perth, Australia. Last time the tournament was hosted here, back in 2006, the USA’s Kevin Stadler finished with a sensational eagle three to edge past home player Nick O’Hern. In 2008 the competition was held at DLF Golf and Country Club in New Delhi, India. Mark Brown of New Zealand was the winner there. It was a sensational couple of weeks for Brown as he had won the SAIL Open on the Asian Tour the week before. A strong field will assemble in Perth including Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood and Greg Norman. The name of Camilo Villegas also appears on the start sheet as does that of another flamboyant character – Ian Poulter. It will be the Englishman’s first competitive appearance since November. Another affiliate member of the European Tour, Anthony Kim will tee it up and he’ll hope to improve on his tied 33rd finish in the Malaysian Open last week. 2010 Ryder Cup Captain and winner of 31 European Tour titles, Colin Montgomerie is confident of his chances this week. “I finished second to Nick Faldo in Singapore in 1993, and have had a few top ten finishes over the years. But it’s certainly a title I would like to have on my CV, and I hope this will be the year.” He said.

Venue: The Vines Resort and Country Club, Perth, Australia Date: Feb 19-22 Course stats: par 72, 7,104 yards Purse: €1,402,000 Winner: €235,892 Defending champion: Mark Brown (-18)

TV coverage: Thursday 19 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 6am Friday 20 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 6am Saturday 21 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 7am Sunday 22 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 7am

player watch: Lee Westwood – The Englishman has been an extremely consistent performer over the past couple of seasons. A European Tour victory is long overdue and he’ll be looking to rectify that sooner rather than later. Camilo Villegas – The Colombian is capable of scintillating golf when he’s on his game. If he finds his best form he could stroll away from the field. Alexander Noren – The Swede finished in the top-ten last week and looks certain to step into the winner’s enclosure sometime in 2009, perhaps this could be the moment.

Key hole: 18th.  At just 514 yards it’s a real birdie or eagle chance. Kevin Stadler managed a three here back in 2006 to seal the title. There’s the potential for some significant changes right at the death of the tournament. Skills required: Going low. This is a course that tends to produce good scoring. Stadler won in 2006 with four round in the 60s including an opening 64.

Fergus Bisset
Fergus Bisset

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?