English to beat at Lake Macquarie Am!
BY Anthony Powter | Australian Mens Amateur Tour | 2011 Lake Macquarie Amateur | Preview | 19 Jan 2011
A quality field will take on this week’s Lake Macquarie Amateur at the Belmont Golf Course just south of Newcastle with a strong international presence from the United Kingdom and Europe.
The Australians are spearheaded by Ryan McCarthy after securing a runner-up finish last week at the Australian Master of the Amateurs and the amateur medal the week earlier at the Victorian Open. The world number 12 certainly has the game and experience to collect this title at Belmont with solid international results that include a top-16 finish at the US Amateur Championship at Chambers Bay last August.
McCarthy also has an added motivating factor with this Lake Macquarie Amateur as a win will almost certainly place him inside the world’s top-10 for the first time.
There will, however, be plenty of challenges that McCarthy will encounter in his pursuit of a top-10 world ranking especially from an English team that is oozing with talent.
England’s Tom Lewis is the worlds highest ranked player competing at Belmont with the world number 4 already securing impressive results this season in Australia. Lewis was the leading amateur at the Australian Open last December at The Lakes and pushed Peter O’Malley to the wire at the NSW Open with O’Malley winning the title on the third play-off hole.
The English Boy’s champion and 2010 Eisenhower representative is one of my hot favourites to take out this tournament along with one of Lewis’s countryman, Laurie Canter.
Canter last week finished 5th at the Australian Master of the Amateurs and is a prolific winner in amateur tournaments in Europe. The world number 20 from Bath won the 2010 West of England Amateur championship, the 2010 South African Amateur championship and was a member of the winning UK team at the 2010 European Team Championships.
Another Englishman to follow is Andrew Sullivan. The world number 23 finished runner-up to Tarquin MacManus last week at the Australian Master of the Amateurs and displayed an impressive and disciplined game around Royal Melbourne, considered a ’thinking man’s course’, with precision placement from the tee. Winner of more than six main amateur tournaments in the UK during the last two years, including twice winning the Midland Open Amateur title and the 2010 champion at the Hampshire Salver, Sullivan is sure to be in the mix this week at Belmont, as will another Englishman, Stiggy Hodgson.
A bout of fever last week at Royal Melbourne effectively ended Hodgson’s chances after playing into contention during the second round of the Australian Master of the Amateurs to be in a share of the lead. The game displayed by Hodgson, a Walker Cupper, before withdrawing was very impressive. A confident and experienced player, Hodgson will be eager to collect a title in Australia after the events of last week.
Many are predicting, myself included, that either of the English players have a strong chance to win at Belmont this week and repeat Adam Gee’s performance in 2006, who became the fourth English player in twenty years to claim the Lake Macquarie Amateur. There’s simply too much talent within the team for the English not to be threatening for this Lake Macquarie Amateur title.
Another to closely follow is New Zealand’s Ben Campbell.
Campbell, 19, became the first Kiwi to make the top 20 in the world amateur rankings since Danny Lee in 2008 and has considerable experience in playing theses bigger events. Campbell was leading amateur in the 2009 Australian Open, secured a runner-up finish to Australian Matt Jager in the 2010 Australian Amateur championship and had an impressive victory on the New Zealand Tour with the 2010 Tauranga Open.
He played into contention last week in Melbourne to be one off the pace moving into the final round yet putting woes dashed his hopes for the title. Should Campbell’s putter be on song this week, I’d expect that he also will be a strong performer at Belmont.
Tasmania’s Kalem Richardson was another impressive player last week securing a 7th place finish, one behind Campbell. Late last year Richardson won the Port Phillip Amateur in Victoria to add to his 2010 Tasmanian Amateur title. He’s due for a major title win and should he be in the mix on Sunday, it would be a fitting win for the 22-year-old.
New Zealand’s Ryan Fox is another to monitor after some peerless displays of golf around Royal Melbourne that included a sizzling opening round of 8-under-par, 64, in a tournament where the 23-year-old eventually finish runner-up. A massive hitter of the ball, the open and forgiving Belmont layout will suit Fox’s gargantuan power from the tee, providing him with a distinct advantage over the field.
Local members of Belmont Golf Club remain proud of running the Lake Macquaire Amateur, an event the Club has hosted since 1958. A perusal of the winners honour roll is a time trip in Australian amateur history in itself, revealing the early successes and the launching pad for many of our best professionals.
The list of former winners is impressive and many are currently playing on the Japanese, European or PGATour. It includes the likes of Peter O’Malley (1986), Stephen Leaney (1992), Geoff Ogilvy (1997), Brett Rumford (1998), Nick Dougherty (2001), Chris Campbell (2002), Jarrod Lyle (2003-4), Marc Leishman (2005) and more recently, Danny Lee (2008). More recently Kieran Pratt (2010) and Scott Arnold (2009) have won the event and moved onto the professional ranks.
Past results indicate the winner will need to shoot anything between 16-20 under par with the open and by modern standards relatively short layout at Belmont falling victim to easy scoring when conditions are benign.
With four English players inside the world top-30, compared to just one Australian, the numbers are firmly in favour for an English victory at Belmont. McCarthy, Fox, Campbell, Richardson and the other top Aussies will be undoubtedly trying to have a say in the outcome, but it certainly sets the field for an interesting contest at Belmont.
Last year Aussie Kieran Pratt smashed the tournament record with an impressive 21-under-par total for a massive eleven stroke victory over Brendan Smith and in the process securing the tournament record previously set at 20-under by Peter O’Malley and Danny Lee. Pratt has since turned professional and featured strongly in a number of Australasian Tour events this summer.