Twelve months ago Jake McLeod won $4,000 for his top-five finish at the Coca Cola Queensland PGA Championship in Toowoomba; this week he will take home more than 10 times that for simply turning up.
If a card on the European Tour for one year is the cake that ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winners receive then starts in two World Golf Championship events is the cream, cherry, sprinkles and chocolate wafer on top.
As a result of their 1-2 finish on the 2018 Order of Merit McLeod and Matthew Millar will join Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith at the WGC-Mexico Championship with Kiwi Ryan Fox earning a late call-up following his win at the ISPS HANDA Super 6 Perth tournament last Sunday.
It’s the most valuable invitation in golf with the last-placed finisher last year, Gavin Green, taking home a cheque for $US51,500.
A first-round 65 served as a nice introduction to life on the European Tour as the Queenslander finished tied for 34th at the Saudi International and then made the cut at the ISPS HANDA Super 6 Perth but failed to qualify for Sunday’s match play.
McLeod has been drawn to play with England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick and American Gary Woodland in the first round while Millar will partner Japan’s Shugo Imahira and Aaron Wise from the USA.
Expecting initially to spend the week after his win in Perth celebrating with friends and indulging in his passion for fishing, Fox was invited to join the 72-man field at Club de Golf Chapultepec following the withdrawal of American Andrew Putnam.
Now ranked 66th in the world, Fox has played the past two WGC-HSBC Champions events and made the cut in the US Open, British Open and US PGA Championship last year.
Smith has been drawn to play with Shubhankar Sharma from India and Englishman Matt Wallace while Marc Leishman features in a marquee group alongside Tony Finau and Hideki Matsuyama.
Currently fourth in the FedEx Cup standings, Leishman finished strongly at last week’s Genesis Open in Los Angeles, rising two places to be ranked No.16 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
There are also a host of Aussie veterans and young guns teeing it up at the PGA TOUR’s Puerto Rico Open at Coco Beach Golf and Country Club.
Robert Allenby has made the mad dash from Perth to Puerto Rico and will be in the first group off the 1st tee with Arjun Atwal and Cameron Beckman.
Other Aussies playing in Puerto Rico are John Senden, Aaron Baddeley, Stuart Appleby, Curtis Luck, Rod Pampling, Matt Jones and Cameron Davis.
Round 1 tee times (AEDT)
4.15am Ryan Fox, Aaron Rai, Byeong Un Han
4.27am Matthew Millar, Shugo Imahira, Aaron Wise
5.15am Jake McLeod, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Gary Woodland
5.27am Cameron Smith, Shubhankar Sharma, Matt Wallace
5.39am Marc Leishman, Tony Finau, Hideki Matsuyama
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