2023 St Andrews Bay Championship

Takeaways from the St Andrews Bay Championship

Field Strength

The field wasn't as strong as the International Series England event but there were a number of players in attendance who are recognisable names to most who follow professional golf. Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Matt Jones and Harold Varner are all PGA Tour winners whilst Mito Pereira came within one hole of winning the US PGA Championship last year at Southern Hills.

Last year's Hero Open on the DP World Tour only had one player inside the world's top 100 (Ryan Fox) so the St Andrews Bay Championship arguably had a higher number of top class players.  Admittedly it did lack in depth of field, with a number of Asian Tour regulars struggling.

That field strength weakness could improve next year though.  With a number of players potentially losing their place on LIV next year, we could well see these players drop down onto the International Series in 2024.  Only one player is guaranteed promotion to LIV at the end of the International Series so next year's International Series could well see even stronger fields going forward.

Player Interaction

With not many spectators attending the event, fans were able to interact with a number of top players.  With the exception of Sergio Garcia (more on this below), almost all players were happy to engage when asked a question or when waiting on a tee.  Several of the par fours at Fairmont are driveable and this in turn created a wait on the tee for those players who were long enough to hit the green.  

Sergio Garcia

An opening round of 77 meant that Sergio was almost certainly packing his bags after round one.  Of the 17 LIV Players who made the trip to Fairmont, Garcia was one of six players who missed the cut.

That opening round clearly put Garcia in a foul mood and a 20 minute wait on the seventh tee during round two certainly didn't help his outlook.  Garcia's frustration boiled over when violently kicking one of the wooden advertising hoardings.

Whilst waiting on the same tee, one spectator asked the Spaniard how his father was doing.  Rather than engaging with the spectator and thanking him for asking after his father, Garcia barely turned round and mumbled something about his father being "fine." It may have been the wrong time to ask the question to the Spaniard but Garcia could certainly have been more hospitable given the nature of the question.

Eugenio Chacarra

In complete contrast to Garcia, Chacarra was affable and chatty when approached.  Chacarra hit 66 of 72 greens in regulation over the four days at Fairmont and was mightily impressive throughout.  Having played with an injury over the opening half of the season, he may well kick on in the latter part of the year now his injury troubles appear to be causing him less of an issue.

Spectator Attendance

We attended the Hero Open at Fairmont on the DP World Tour last summer and were pretty critical of the spectator attendances.  Sadly, the attendances at the St Andrews Bay Championship were pretty low as well.  Given that some big names were in attendance at Fairmont, the weather was nice and tickets were free, it was surprising not to see more people come to watch the action.  Fairmont's location (it is over 30 mins drive to the nearest city - Dundee) means that only the most committed golf fans make the trip.  

Andy Ogletree

Ogletree started the week slowly but once again finished strongly.  He has closed with some really low rounds since winning in Egypt at the end of 2022.  Closing rounds of 65 at St Andrews and 64 at Close House were eye catching.  Further evidence that he is one to watch on a Sunday came in the form of final rounds of 63 in Saudi Arabia and 62 in Egypt.  Those final rounds were his lowest score of the week and it would appear he grows in confidence as the weeks progress.

With only three tournaments to go in the International Series, Ogletree looks set to play himself into a contract with LIV next season.

Betting on the Asian Tour

Only half a dozen firms had priced up the event before the start which was somewhat disappointing and from what we could see, only bet365 were offering prices in-running.  A lack of tv coverage meant that there wasn't an enormous gambling interest in the event.  A real shame as it was an exciting final round with the lead changing several times and a ten hole playoff!

Ollie Roberts 

Finally, a mention for fellow Scotsman Ollie Roberts.  We weren't aware of Ollie prior to this week's event but spent a bit of time following him and he certainly has all the physical attributes to play the game at the highest level.  Well over six foot tall, he has clearly spent a significant amount of time in the gym and that strength certainly bodes well for a game that is increasingly becoming focused on length off the tee.

Overall Experience

We thoroughly enjoyed our first International Series event.  With so few fans we were able to get really close to the action and interact with a number of players.   Not only did we get the chance to watch some household names but we were also able to take a closer look at players who are up and coming on LIV and the Asian Tour.  We are very much hoping the International Series returns to Fairmont in 2024.


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