Jager crowned Aussie Amateur champion
BY Anthony Powter | Australian Mens Amateur Tour | 2010 Australian Amateur Championship | Grand Final | 24 Mar 2010
Matt Jager is the Australian Amateur Champion following an 8&7 win over New Zealand’s, Ben Campbell, at Lake Karrinyup Country Club in Perth.
It’s been a stellar week for Jager with winning the Australian Amateur Stroke title on Sunday and seeing his world ranking move from 11th to 6th.
The two victories at the Australian Amateur Championship add to Jager’s increasing portfolio of achievements including 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.
Jager will return to New Zealand to defend his title next month at Napier and Hastings golf clubs in Wellington and following his achievements this week, he’s ready to make his mark on the international amateur stage.
“I’m feeling pretty good about myself at the moment,” said Jager following his win in Perth
“Hopefully, I can go onto dominate more events like these around the world. There’s a lot of golf ahead with the New Zealand Amateur the Scottish Links, British Amateur, as well as the American events to look forward to. I’m feeling confident with my game and to these challenges.”
This last week in Perth Jager put on a display of peerless golf by taking full advantage of the opportunities he’d worked for himself by closing matches when he needed to. The finishing holes at Lake Karrinyup being extremely kind to Jager. Then again, Jager rather took control of the course with a silky combination of discipline and aggression, to blend the perfect formula for success.
Jager accounted for the vast majority of his victories by the way he played the closing holes at Karrinyup, no more so than his narrow 1-up win in the second round against a storming Lincoln Tighe. Again in Tuesday’s semi-final, Jager got the edge in the closing stages of his match against Taipei’s, Chien-Yao Hung, with two successive wins on 15 & 16 through birdies to set up another victory.
“I kind of owned the back nine at Karrinyup all this week,” remarked Jager.
How true this was. Jager in the Championship final against Campbell set the tone of what was to become, by moving to 4-up by the 17th hole. Campbell, the top amateur last December at the Australian Open, managed to reduce the deficit back to two after lunch, yet was able to get his swing going to seriously press Jager during the final.
A few missed putts earlier on by the New Zealander, which could have easily dropped, also stagnating his momentum.
“It was just one of those days for me with my swing and Matt simply played superbly,” said Campbell after the final.
Campbell, 18, produced stellar golf during the championship to eliminate a number of named Australian players. Having qualified last Sunday as the 30th seed after a six-man play-off to make the top-32, Campbell accounted for Luke Bleumink, 3&2, in the 1st round, then Brody Ninyette, 5&4, Kieran Pratt on the 19th in their quarter-final, and fought a titanic battle against Bryden Macpherson in the semi-finals to win 2&1.
“You know, I take away a lot of positives from this,” said Campbell.
“I know what to work on in future and how I can approach these chances differently. Overall, I’m pleased with these championships and are looking forward to the Trans-Tasman Cup against the Aussies in Wellington next month.”
The two wins at the 2010 Australian Amateur are richly deserved for Jager.
It was the 21-year old’s first appearance in Australian Amateur Championship final after four previous attempts. The victory comes off the back of considerable hard work that both Jager and his coach, Ritchie Smith, have done in recent times. Jager is a methodical worker on and off the golf course. This will see him continue to do well and make the obvious transition into the paid ranks when that eventuates easier.
“This has been an amazing week for me and I’ve managed to get a lot accomplished. All the work that I’ve done with my fitness and getting myself mentally prepared for an event like this has clearly paid off, as winning events like this is a massive task.”
The pathway to the final was anything but easy for Jager.
A 3&2 win in the first round over John Yim, was followed by a titanic tussle with Lincoln Tighe in the second round. Jager would eventually win the match against Tighe, 1-up, after being at one stage 5-up in the match. A quick 7&5 disposal of one of the up-coming talents in Australian golf, Michael Williams, in the quarter-finals gave Jager some reprieve before he tackled his semi-final encounter against Taipei’s, Chien-Yao Hung. Jager would go onto claim victory with a 1-up win over Hung, but again not without a struggle.
“Events like these take it out on you. I just managed to keep my focus and not get too involved with what my opponents were doing.”
“I had a great mate on the bag with me all this week and that kept me going. There were a few close encounters out there, but I knew within myself that if I just kept to my game plan, things would work out.”
Jager is a worthy recipient for the two most sought after amateur trophies in Australia. The fact that he secured them concurrently in the one championship is itself testament to the prodigious talent that Jager is.
In his own words Jager says that he wants to dominate amateur golf moving forward.
This week in Perth, Jager certainly managed that and in the process sent a stern message to the amateur world that he’s ready to aim for that number 1 world ranking.
With the way Jager played this week few would ague against this being outside the realm of possibility.