British Amateur: Tradition and Spoils
BY Anthony Powter | World Amateur Mens Tour | 2009 British Amateur Championship | Preview | 15 Jun 2009
In its 124 year history, the British Amateur has evaded Australian hands for the last 55 years. Hopefully things will change this week in Liverpool.
Douglas Bachli was the last Australian to claim the title in 1954 at Muirfield. Jim Ferrier in 1936 was defeated in the final and more recently Tim Stewart in 2007 went down to Drew Weaver at Royal Lytham & St Annes, 2&1.
Six Australians including Matt Jager, Daniel Nisbet, Bryden Macpherson, Brendan Smith, Jason Scrivener and Lincon Tighe will contest this year’s Championship being played at the Formby Golf Club and West Lancashire Golf Club just out from Liverpool in northern England.
The Australians, except Macpherson, have been based in the UK now for some weeks, playing the Scottish Amateur Stroke and the St Andrews Links Trophy in preparation for this week’s Championship. Macpherson arrived last week to prepare for the tournament.
“It’s taken a little to get use to the true links golf,” says Matt Jager, Australia’s highest ranked amateur at 9th in the world.
“It’s that bit faster and the rough is just that little bit different. Visually, I’m starting to feel a better about links golf and looking forward to the challenge.”
Daniel Nisbet is another who feels his game is ready to seriously challenge the international field that has assembled in Liverpool this week.
“I’ve been able to put a few good scores together which I’m happy about and have high expectations leading into this event,” says Nisbet who comes off a 4th place finish at last week’s St Andrews Links Trophy.
“I’m striking the ball solidly and I just have to figure out my putting and making those critical putts when the conditions are tough. The wind is such a big factor here and that’s been making my putting a little difficult.”
Despite his limited preparation, Bryden Macpherson should feature strongly this week. Winner of both the Australian and New Zealand Stroke titles, Macpherson can play links golf as shown last November at The Dunes Medal where the Victorian fired a sizzling 9-under-par third round course record to set up for his first National Trial win.
“My preparation has been good,” says Smith.
“I just have to cut out some silly mistakes that I’ve been making over here and I should do well. The courses bounce a lot with your drives and I’ve been getting used to that. The Amateur is my biggest challenge and I’m really looking forward to it.”
2008 Amateur champion, Reinier Saxton, has returned and will attempt to become the first man to successfully defend the title since England’s Peter McEvoy in 1978. Saxton recently made the cut at the Memorial Tournament and is bringing some form to this year’s Championship.
The 21-year-old’s 3&2 victory over England’s Tommy Fleetwood at Turnberry last year ensured that Saxton became only the second Dutchman and the 31st foreign player to win the title.
The British Amateur dates back to the 1857, although what became recognised as the first British Amateur Championship was held at Hoylake in 1885 where a total of 44 players from 12 clubs played for the title. Times have certainly changed as the Championship, alongside the US Amateur, is the most sought after amateur title in the world.
To the victor goes the spoils with invitations to two of the Major championships, namely the Open Championship, and the following year’s Masters Tournament.
The first stage of the Championship involves 288 players playing two rounds of 18 holes, one to be played on each of the two courses. The 64 lowest scores over the 36 holes and ties for 64th place then compete in the match play stage of the Championship, which will commence on Wednesday 17 June 2009, at Formby.