Arnold lines up for victory at Belmont
BY Anthony Powter | Australian Mens Amateur Tour | 2009 Lake Macquarie Amateur | Round Three | 24 Jan 2009
Scott Arnold produced a peerless display of golf in oppressively hot conditions during the third round of the Lake Macquarie Amateur Championship with a 6-under-par, 66, to secure a one stroke lead at 10-under-par over Englishman Charles Ford.
Scott Arnold Audio Interview
Starting five strokes behind overnight leader, Robert Payne, Arnold played faultless golf with a string of birdies to capitalise on opening rounds of 71-69, and set himself up for another National Trial event title in tomorrow’s final round.
“The eagle on nine and that birdie on ten just got my game going,” said Arnold, who last year went into the final round at Belmont in second position and nine shots behind eventual winner Danny Lee.
“The first two rounds I’d played well, just missed a few putts. My goal this year was to just keep trying to get into contention for the last nine holes and see what happens from there. That I’ve managed to do here.”
“I was in this position last year, but at least there’s not a massive number to chase down tomorrow.”
Last March, Arnold won his maiden National Trial event with the Riversdale Cup in a display of pure determination and nerve to account for Kieran Pratt in a playoff. Having just arrived back in Australia after playing the Asian Tour School series, Arnold is primed and ready to add another title to his collection, which already includes the 2006 Hong Kong Open Amateur as well as the 2007 Riversdale Cup.
“I learnt at lot about my game at Riversdale, especially how to close a tournament.”
“It’s great to be able to fire on all cylinders and make some scores of late. I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and I’m really looking forward to going out there tomorrow and just competing,” says Arnold, currently ranked the 22nd amateur in the world.
Nipping at Arnold’s heels only a stroke behind is Englishmen, Charles Ford, with rounds of 69-70-69. Ford, a member of England’s Elite Squad, is a recent product of the US Collegiate system and just graduated from University of Tennessee with a Science Major.
“It makes for an exciting day tomorrow, as the scores are all close and anyone is in with a chance,” said Ford.
Ford is no stranger to playing in final pairings, having won the Turtle Bay Classic in Hawaii on the US Collegiate tour, and is a regular at the main European amateur events.
“This is a major event in Australia and I know players from my country have won the Lake Macquarie Amateur before. I’m striking my irons well and love playing links courses like these. If conditions pick up tomorrow, I’m right at home and should fair well.”
Sharing equal second with Ford is local player and National Squad member, Brendan Smith, with rounds of 69-69-69.
Smith moved to the main amateur ranks on the back of an impressive junior record, including winning the 2007 Junior section of the Lake Macquaire Amateur Championship. International commitments with the Australian Team for 2008 Toyota World Junior Team Championships and the guidance of the National Squad training regime has seen Smith’s game evolved and his one of Australia’s main amateur players.
Local knowledge as well as the backing sprit of the strong partisan Belmont crowd, will make Smith a formidable opponent in tomorrow’s final round. He would love nothing better than to collect this title in front of his home club.
Michael Smyth will be doing his best to deny any player in the field of claiming the title. The 21-year-old from the Sydney suburb of Bankstown continues to make his respective mark in National Trial events with numerous stellar top-ten performances, more recently at The Dunes Medal and the Federal Amateur last October.
“Lately, I’ve been doing well in these events,” says Smyth.
“The tournament is still wide open and there’s no number to chase down, like we had last year with Danny Lee. It’s great to be in this position and in with a chance to have a go. That’s what makes these tournaments a challenge, with the strong field and an open final round.”
Overnight leader Robert Payne struggled with a third round 75 in the hot conditions, which at times had the mercury climbing to 40 degrees, despite the course’s position right alongside the ocean.
The stage is again set at the Lake Macquarie Amateur for a thrilling finish. The final pairing of Scott Arnold, Brendan Smith and Charles Ford represents a classic mixture of raw talent with a dash of international flavour, all capable of winning this championship.
Then again you would not discount Michael Smyth’s chances, he’s due for a win especially should the numbers fall his way.