Victory finally for Smyth at NSW Amateur
BY Anthony Powter | Australian Mens Amateur Tour | 2009 New South Wales Amateur Championship | Grand Final | 08 Feb 2009
Michael Smyth has used his knowledge around his home layout to win the NSW Amateur Championship over Scotland’s Ross Kellett 2&1 at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney’s east.
The win is his first major amateur title and timely for a player who has been knocking on the door of a championship win. During the last six months Smyth has been a sold performer in main amateur tournaments with numerous top-10 finishes in the last three national trial events, including a tied 4th at The Dunes Medal. His previous best finish was a equal 3rd in the 2008 Lake Macquarie Amateur.
“It could have gone either way,” said Smyth about his final match with Kellett.
“I was leading for the most part of the day and then let it slip to be one-down with five to go. On the 32rd hole I was able to get back to square after Ross [Kellett] was unable to get up and down from the trap. I say that was the turning point in the final as it got my momentum back.”
Smyth accounted for numerous marquee players on his way to the championship final, including Scott Arnold in their semi final on the 37th hole.
Positioned in the top-half of the draw for the thirty-two player match play segment, which arguably was the harder of the two halves, Smyth also accounted for Queensland’s Tim Hart on the 38th in quarter-final and earlier disposed of Jason Scrivener 2&1 in the second round.
“I said to myself earlier in the week that ’I’ll have to play them anyway to make the final’, so I was kind of prepared for the tougher matches. It probably made me match fit for the final, as they were all tough matches.”
Scotland’s Ross Kellett will take plenty away from this championship, despite not claiming the title. The 21-year-old is a plus two handicapper and has featured strongly on the junior European circuit over the last few years, successfully graduating to the men’s senior ranks.
A member of the Scotland Boys Team that finished 2nd in the 2006 European Team Championship, Kellett also hit the headlines the same summer by finishing 3rd in the Scottish Stroke Play Championship at Craigielaw and reached the quarter-finals of The Amateur Championship last June.
Kellett accounted for Inverell’s Brett Drewitt 2&1 in their semi final encounter, after previously disposing of Kyle Grant 6&4 in the quarter final.
Smyth’s world ranking has moved to 132 following the win. With that maiden amateur title secured, Smyth is set to embark upon the next phase of his amateur development as he aims for more titles both locally and abroad.
Originally from Bankstown, Smyth is currently based with the NSW Institute of Sport under the guidance of Glenn Whittle and has formulated a schedule that includes the remaining Australian events before embarking overseas.
“It’s all dependent upon starts and funding, but I’m keen to test my game abroad after playing the main events here,” says Smyth.
“The win sets me up well for the coming Australian events and it’s great to get the first win after all the hard work.”
With the Tasmanian Amateur, Riversdale Cup and Australian Amateur Championship his next major tournaments, Smyth will be a player to follow as both his game and confidence develops. Many times before you see a player take his game to the next level after winning a major amateur title and there’s no reason why this will not happen to Smyth.
It was a win well deserved and one that his sure to savour.
“I’ve work hard with my game and been close to winning a few times before. It’s great to finally win one and get that out of the way.”
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.
Symth’s name is now etched on the trophy along side them and more trophies should fall into his hands in the future.