With many players making their Palmerston debut and others returning for a second bite of the cherry, picking who might contend strongly at the second Northern Territory PGA Championship – presented by Cazalys Palmerston; makes for an interesting discussion.
The most in-form player on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia circuit was quite obviously South Australian Jason Norris, who has withdrawn from Palmerston for all the right reasons.
Having earned a European Tour card with his spectacular victory at the Fiji International last week, Norris will be in Prague, not Palmerston, with the best wishes of everyone associated with the Northern Territory PGA Championship.
Joint runner-up James Marchesani enjoyed the best result of his career in Fiji, along with a $106,000 pay cheque, and will certainly be one to watch if he can bring his Natadola Bay form back to Palmerston.
Other players who had lucrative weeks included Peter Wilson (tied 5th), Jarryd Felton and Gareth Paddison (T9th), in addition to Mark Brown, Aron Price (pictured) and Jake McLeod, who all finished with a wet sail over the weekend to share 12th place.
The ACT’s Matthew Millar won the Fiji Teams Challenge event held at the Natadola Bay course the week after the Fiji International and together with Brett Rankin and Steve Jeffress (pictured), who were second and third respectively, has been in blistering form on the local pro-am circuit over the past month or two.
Defending champion Jordan Zunic missed the cut in Fiji but has been preparing at home over recent weeks after returning from the European Challenge Tour. So too Dimi Papadatos, who finished a creditable tied 30th in Fiji.
Gold Coast-based Michael Sim is looming as a ‘dark horse’ contender as he makes his second visit to Palmerston with some solid four-round tournament form against strong international fields under his belt in recent weeks.
Tied for 20th at Palmerston last year, Sim finished at 6-under to tie for 16th in Fiji and shot some impressive low numbers on the Web.Com Tour in the events held in Kansas and San Francisco recently.
Local hope Anthony Quayle finished tied for 53rd in Fiji despite being floored on tournament eve by the dreadful flu virus that has been sweeping the nation.
Quayle heads to Palmerston in 34th place on the Order of Merit, having missed just one cut in eight events in his debut season on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.
Could this be the week for a breakthrough Tour victory for Quayle, Marchesani or Wilson, or will the Championship go to proven tournament winner, of which there are literally dozens in the field this year?
Travis Smyth finished in the final eight at the United States Amateur Championship just two weeks ago and, not for the first time, will pit his considerable skills against the professionals again at Palmerston.
Might the Championship go to an amateur for the first time?
We now have only a matter of days left to find out.