Adam Scott will look to continue his banner 2013 when he tees off at the Royal Pines Resort in Surfers Paradise for the Australian PGA Championship this weekend.
And his chances of keeping his winning run going received a boost on Tuesday, when one of his main rivals for the title – Brandt Snedeker – was forced out with a knee injury.
Scott has risen to number two in the world this year, with the undisputed peak coming in April when he became the first Australian to win the green jacket at Augusta by taking out The Masters.
His triumph at The Barclays in August elevated him to second spot in the world rankings behind Tiger Woods, and he continued his sterling form by winning the Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda, beating Justin Rose, Jason Dufner and Padraig Harrington.
His claims to favouritism were bolstered by the late withdrawal of one of the tournament’s chief drawcards, world number nine Snedeker.
The American’s agent informed organisers on Tuesday he would be unable to play after injuring his knee in China.
In his absence, American Rickie Fowler, 24, could head the overseas charge.
Fowler is ranked 43 in the world, but has endured a largely disappointing season – his best result being equal third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.
Marc Leishman could be the best of the home-grown challengers, with the Victorian enjoying four top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this year, including tying four fourth at the Masters behind Scott.
And the old stagers should not be discounted either, with 46-year-old Peter Lonard trying to snare his fourth PGA Championship, while Peter Senior – who surprised everyone in 2010 by beating Geoff Ogilvy in a play-off to lift the trophy – is also bidding for a fourth title.
Senior, 54, first won the PGA Championship in 1989 at Riverside Oaks.
Champion Daniel Popovic, who was the Cinderella story last spring when he won at Coolum with a four-stroke victory over Anthony Brown and Rod Pampling, has decided not to return to Queensland to defend his title.
Popovic memorably dedicated last year’s victory to his father, who has been battling bone cancer, and wrestled with the question of whether or not to front up at Royal Pines.
The 29-year-old has instead chosen to fight for the riches on offer at the European Tour through Q-School.
This year’s tournament shifts to Royal Pines, after a decade at the Clive Palmer-owned Coolum Resort.
Last year’s tournament was literally overshadowed by Palmer’s eccentricity, with the billionaire installing a giant dinosaur on the ninth fairway.
This year, the hazards at Royal Pines are more aquatic than pre-historic, with water a factor on half the 18 holes at the Tomojiro Maruyama-designed course.