Three way tie at Lake Macquarie Am!
BY Anthony Powter | Australian Mens Amateur Tour | 2011 Lake Macquarie Amateur | Round Three | 23 Jan 2011
Brady Watt, New Zealand’s Ben Campbell and Anthony Murdaca share the lead at the Lake Macquarie Amateur with a score of 10-under-par following today’s third round.
Watt fired rounds of 68-69-69 with Campbell recording rounds of 70-68-68 and Murdaca carding rounds of 67-71-68.
The trio move into the final round with a two stroke margin over a star studded field.
Dangerously lurking within striking distance is England’s, Andrew Sullivan at 8-under-par along with young gun sensation, Aussie Cameron Smith. The two are certainly capable of winning an event of this nature, with Sullivan a multiple winner this season in the UK, whereas Smith has won in recent times virtually every event there is to claim in his native state of Queensland.
Predicting outcomes with any tournament is always fraught with danger, especially with nine players within five of the leaders including Brett Drewitt, Ryan McCarthy and Chris Wood. They all are experienced and talented players at this level.
Yet I’m prepared to go out on a limb and say that Kiwi Ben Campbell looks the part at this championship.
Campbell illustrated precision placement off the tee and combined that nicely with some clutch putting at critical stages of today’s round to retain his hold on the top position. He was in the hunt last week at Royal Melbourne, only to have his putter go cold on him during the closing stages of the Australian Master of the Amateurs to record a disappointing result in a tournament that promised so much for the 19-year-old.
“I made some critical putts coming home today,” said Campbell, who 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 last season at the Tauranga Open.
“I’ve been playing well lately, yet haven’t had a really low score. Hopefully, I go out there tomorrow and play well to get the result.”
Last week Campbell played his way into the Australian Master of the Amateurs to have a share of the lead moving into the final round at Royal Melbourne. The tournament appeared to be his for the taking, only to see his short game and putting let him down on the final day in conditions that were anything but favourable.
“I was leading at the Master of the Amateurs with six holes to go and it was a little frustrating with the finish that I had,” said Campbell about his tied 6th result in Melbourne.
“I did a bit of work this week and I’m now putting better and reading the line more clearly. I’ve been playing well for a while and it’s about time for me to break through. I’ll stay patient, but hopefully I’ll get the win tomorrow.”
Brady Watt will be attempting to rain on Campbell’s planned parade as he goes in search of his maiden amateur win after being on the doorstep of a main amateur title a number of times for the last few years.
Watt was finalist at the Perth City open last year and reach the quarter-finals of the 2010 Western Australian Amateur. Another emerging player from Western Australia, playing in the final grouping in a main amateur event will prove an interesting test for the world number 526.
“It’s the first time I’ve been in an elite group,” says Watt.
“I’m just going out there to have fun, soak it in and live it up really. All week I’ve played the par 5’s well, so hopefully I can get my game going tomorrow and we will see how it goes.”
The Novocastrian locals will be out in force tomorrow to support their hometown boy, Jake Higginbottom.
Last year Higginbottom accounted for England’s, Tommy Fleetwood, in the NSW Amateur Championship final with a 3&2 victory at Royal Sydney Golf Club. It was considered a surprise win at the time, yet Higginbottom since has clearly established himself as one of our main emerging amateurs.
At 17, Higginbottom represents the new wage of talent from the junior ranks. With only three strokes separating him from the leaders, the Lake Macquarie Amateur title is certainly within his reach.
England’s Andrew Sullivan is another that not to be discounted for this title.
The Englishman has the grit, experience and game to take this title and the world number 23 comes with runner-up to Tarquin MacManus last week at the Australian Master of the Amateurs.
Quite simply, Sullivan has “danger” written all over his face and it sets the stage in what promises to be a thrilling finish to this year’s Lake Macquarie Amateur with a number of variables at play as to who will be holding the silverware come tomorrow afternoon.