Matt Jager: No Limitations

BY Anthony Powter | Australian Mens Amateur Tour | 2010 Australian Amateur Championship | General | 22 Mar 2010

Predicting what might eventuate with any promising amateur is always fraught with danger. The numbers of talented players over the years who have bursted onto the scene, only to then vaporised into obscurity upon moving into the professional arena is too numerous to mention. Names who dominated amateur ranks for years and which promised so much, have vanished off the golfing map and are never to be heard or seen.

Matt Jager will be the exception to this.

Yesterday in his home State of Western Australia the world number 8 secured his first Australian national title winning the Australian Amateur Stroke championship with a five stroke margin over Luke Bleumink and Jin Jeong at Lake Karrinyup Country Club in Perth. Jager never looked like relinquishing the lead at the championship following a peerless opening round, 7-under-par 65, at Mt Lawley Golf Club.

“I came here looking to dominate these championships,” said Jager after his win.

The truth is Jager more than dominated a field that included the “who’s-who” of Australian amateur golf, he re-confirmed his status as Australia’s top ranked amateur and arguably our hottest prospect for future grander on the world’s international golfing stage.

Jager fired rounds of 65-70-71-70 to finish at 12-under-par and in the process returned inside the World’s top-10 after falling back to 11th following last week’s Riversdale Cup in Melbourne. It was Jager’s forth main amateur title, after winning back-to-back Federal Amateur Championships in 2008-09, the 2008 Tournament of International Jockey Club of Rosario in Argentina and the 2009 New Zealand Amateur Championship, with a 6&5 victory over South Africa’s, Nicol Van Wyk, at Titirangi Golf Club last April in Auckland.

“It’s always special to win National event titles,” says Jager.

“After Riversdale, I was a little disappointed with my game and have worked hard since with my coach, Ritchie Smith, back home. This week all that effort paid off and everything just clicked.”

Jager sets high expectations upon himself and is a methodical worker with his game. It’s an approach that has already delivered dividends and in any tournament Jager competes, either locally or internationally, he’s a constant threat to the rest of the field. Since coming onto the scene in 2006 at the Australian Open, his consistency continues to improve, particularly when playing abroad in main amateur events. It certainly is a bright future for him.

As 2010 unfolds Jager will focus upon achieving results overseas. With two international victories already to his credit, with the 2008 Tournament of International Jockey Club of Rosario in Argentina and the 2009 New Zealand Amateur Championship, international wins is one area he wants to add to his ever expanding portfolio of achievements.

“That’s something that I’ll be focusing upon, as well as trying to get starts in as manny professional events that I can. I’m at the stage of my game where I need to test myself in different circumstances and get as much exposure to that as possible.”

Jager is yet to win in the UK or the US, although he’s been close on numerous occasions.

The joy with a course record 66 at Formby Golf Club during the first round of the 2009 British Amateur Championship to finish the stroke component in a share of 4th, was to be only cut short when England’s John Carroll pipped Jager out of the third round of the match play on the 20th hole. It was a gutting experience at the time for Jager, and he knew he’d let slipped a golden change to win the championship.

“I went into the match feeling that everything was in place and was happy with my preparation and the bounces just did not fall my way,” said Jager to me at the time.

A year earlier Jager again experienced the dreaded blow of the golfing gods, but this time in the US.

At the 2008 Players Amateur, Mark Anderson had denied Jager of his maiden US victory courtesy of a red hot putter with the American firing a blistering final round 10-under-par 60. Jager had gone into the final day at the prestigious American event with a stroke lead over a field that was littered with international talent and was poised for his biggest win in what was effectively his first real hit out in the US.

“You learn to roll with the punches and just move on,” says Jager regarding these experiences.

“That’s part and parcel with playing the game and things sometimes don’t fall your way. You have to move on and not take it too personally, as there will be other chances.”

A victory in the UK or the US is now for Jager not so much a matter of “if” but “when”.

Good players make their own chances and even greater players seize the opportunities that they create.

Jager continues to create opportunities for himself when the glove is on. It’s getting our attention and it’s not just with the way he does his pre-routine practice swing before a shot, which generates enough power you can hear the swish of the club a mile away. There’s booming drives, a majestic short game, really you start to think of the complete package.

You do need to keep all this in perspective here, as over the top expectations are dangerous. You only have to look back of examples of the pool of talented amateur players of the past, to realise this wonderful game has a very dark side of obscurity. Many a prize rooster has subsequently turned into tomorrow’s feather duster.

Jager is a 21-year-old with serious style and a more serious game. He’s also maturing as a player and with that goes a learning curve and he’s learning fast. You shouldn’t expect he’ll win every round, or that there will be colour and movement with every tournament he plays, but you can certainly expect that Jager will be around for a while.

I’ll even go as far as to say there are no apparent limitations as to what Matt Jager will achieve in the future.

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    About the Author: Anthony Powter

    Anthony brings a vast array of experience having covered the world's biggest golf Tours. An experienced photojournalist, his aim is to bring golf to life with articles of interest coupled with stunning photography.


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