After his stirring win at the Honda Classic Adam Scott will be a favourite with Australian fans this week but with a total of eight Aussies teeing up at the WGC Cadillac Championship in Miami there is no shortage of local storylines to cheer for.
Joining Scott at the Blue Monster Course at Doral will be World Number 2 Jason Day, paired with Numbers 1 and 3 Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy for the first two rounds, and six other Australians vying for a slice of the US$9.5 million purse.
Fellow PGA TOUR players Steven Bowditch and Marc Leishman will join Scott Hend, Nathan Holman, Marcus Fraser and BMW New Zealand Open winner Jordan Zunic at one of the oldest and most prestigious events on the US schedule.
History and form suggest Scott's chances are the best of the Down Under brigade this week after five previous top-10 finishes in 13 appearances at Doral including a T4 last year in his first event of the season.
With his new found putting confidence and his ball striking back to it's world class best last week the 2013 Masters winner will be hard to beat this week though there will be no shortage of contenders.
Groupings will be sent out in World Ranking order the first two rounds meaning World Number 9 Scott will tee up with defending champion Dustin Johnson (8) and World Number 7 Justin Rose.
While Scott will be in the spotlight as one of the favourites so, too, will fellow Queenslander and World Number 2 Jason Day.
Though he has played only three times in 2016 and missed one cut, this week signals the beginning of his Masters preparation and he will be keen to play well.
His results at Doral have historically not been as good as expected with a T31 on the newly redesigned layout last year and it remains to be seen what rust, if any, remains in his game.
However, being paired with the World Numbers 1 and 3 will likely give his game a boost and it would be a surprise if he didn't improve on his previous best result here of T20.
Marc Leishman has teed up in this event just once previously when he finished near the tail of the field in 2010 but six years on he is a superior player to then.
Coming into the week off a top five finish in his last start a fortnight ago the Victorian will be quietly confident when Thursday comes around.
His win at the Sun City tournament in South Africa at the end of last year was a huge confidence boost and after a bad reaction to medication prescribed for bed bug bites last month his game looks to be back on track.
Scott Hend and Marcus Fraser are the only other two Australians with any previous history at this event, Hend finishing T16 in his only appearance in 2014 and Fraser boasting a best of T24 in his three starts.
Neither has played since the course was revamped by Gil Hanse but the long hitting Hend should certainly benefit from some of the changes.
Fraser, however, has a big incentive to bring his best with his World Ranking sneaking ever closer to the top 50 and a Masters invite.
Having climbed another four spots to 58th after the Perth International he is tantalisingly close to an Augusta tee time and a top 10 finish this week would go a long way to confirming that.
While the course favours longer hitters, which Fraser isn't, the Victorian has proved in recent weeks he is capable of adapting his game to get the job done.
As good as anyone in the world around the greens the 37-year-old uses his 14 years of European Tour experience wisely and if he can get himself in position for a high finish won't be overawed by the situation.
There are three first timers in the Australian contingent this week with Jordan Zunic and Nathan Holman likely feeling a little less comfortable in the surrounds than PGA TOUR player Steven Bowditch.
Holman came close to victory two weeks ago at the Maybank Malaysian Championship won by Fraser and while disappointed with his eventual finish will have learnt a lot from being in contention.
This field represents another step up in class but the 24-year-old has shown throughout his short career that he is capable of stepping up his game at each level and this week will be another important learning experience.
A win might be a stretch but a top 10 is not out of the question if Holman can produce his best and regardless of the end result just playing the event will be a plus.
For the last man in the field, Jordan Zunic, it has been a difficult road since winning the BMW New Zealand Open in stunning fashion last year but, as he showed that week, his good golf is good enough to contend at the top level.
He was a surprise winner in Queenstown and this week would be an ideal time to surprise again with the large purse and ranking points on offer.
With no full time tour to play Zunic has struggled to get into a rhythm but with no pressure and no cut this week he will be able to free wheel and could yet produce his best stuff.
Headlines at a glance
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- The Hayne Plane en route for the Fiji International 30.09.2016
- Yenda beer tees up new PGA partnership 29.09.2016
- Jeffress and Lawson in winning form 29.09.2016
- Hend heads back to Asia 28.09.2016
- Women’s Holden Scramble crowns 25,000th participant 28.09.2016
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