NSW Amateur: A Testing Affair
BY Anthony Powter | Australian Mens Amateur Tour | 2009 New South Wales Amateur Championship | Preview | 30 Jan 2009
The NSW Amateur Championship is one of the longest running and most gruelling amateur events on the Australian amateur circuit. Nine days of competition determines the champion and the sheer amount of golf played under championship format is itself a testing affair.
The NSW Medal commences on Saturday, 31 January with half of the field playing stroke play at Bonnie Doon Golf Club in Sydney’s east and the other half at Twin Creeks Golf Club in Sydney’s west. The players will then swap courses for the second round on Sunday after which a cut with the top 60 players plus ties contesting the final 36 holes on Monday at Bonnie Doon.
At the conclusion of the Medal the top 32 players will qualify for the NSW Amateur Championship proper, which follows a 36 holes knockout match play format for five days, beginning on Wednesday, 7th February at The Australian Golf Club and concluding on Sunday, 8th February.
The defending champion is Michael Raseta who defeated Tim Hart 4&2 last year at Ryde-Parramatta Golf Club, while Rohan Blizard won the NSW Medal at 12-under-par in a rain shortened thirty-six hole event.
Raseta and Hart have both returned to compete in this year’s event, whilst Blizard joined the professional ranks last November.
Arguably the player to beat is Scott Arnold who comes into the NSW Amateur with a win at last week’s Lake Macquarie Amateur. Ranked eighteen in the world, Arnold displayed impressive golf during the four days at Belmont. With his confidence on a high and his all round game exhibiting some of his best form ever, Arnold’s chances of taking the Medal and progressing strongly through the match play section are certainly high.
Brendan Smith, who was runner-up to Arnold last week, is another player capable of winning this championship.
Smith has not finished outside the top-10 in his last four tournament starts, including a tied 10th finish in the NSW Open last November. The Belmont local is due for a major amateur win and Smith’s overall game has advanced strongly since being selected in the National Squad last year.
Michael Smyth is another player worth following. The 21-year-old from the Sydney suburb of Bankstown continues to make his mark in National Trial events with numerous stellar top-ten performances, more recently at The Dunes Medal and the Federal Amateur last October. A costly final round at Belmont is Smyth’s only recent blemish, however, Smyth has the game to be a serious challenger in any event he competes.
Despite not exhibiting his best form at the Lake Macquarie Amateur, Jason Scrivener is one of Australia’s most consistent performers in the bigger events. Scrivener during the 2007-08 season collected the 2007 Australian Junior Championship, finished tied 8th at the prestigious Players Amateur in the US and bagged six top-5 finishes in National Trial events. With his opening tournament for the season at Belmont out of the way, Scrivener should perform well over the coming week.
Australia’s highest world ranked amateur, Matt Jager, is another who is seeking to get his Australian season underway. Despite being the first round leader with an opening 67 at Belmont, Jager ended the tournament back in the field and was obviously disappointed with his result. Jager is a solid match play player and he’ll take some stopping if inside the top 32 on Wednesday.
Other notables playing include Brett Rankin, Rhys McGovern, Justin Roach and Rhein Gibson.
Roach was runner-up at the 2007 Australian Amateur and Lake Macquarie Amateur and with the home course advantage at Bonnie Doon, he should fare well. Having only just returned from the US collegiate circuit, Gibson admitted that he was lacking match fitness at Belmont and like Scrivener, with his opening tournament now out of the way, his game should return to seriously challenge for this title.
The international presence is lead by Charles Ford and Farren Keenan from England and Ross Kellett from Scotland.
In the 102 year history of the NSW Amateur Championship former winners of the title have included Jack Newton, Brett Ogle, Peter O’Malley, Tony Gresham and more recently, Brendan Jones, Won Joon Lee and Gavin Flint.