Smith Sensational in Play Off at Aussie
BY Anthony Powter | Australian Mens Amateur Tour | 2011 Australian Amateur Championship | Final Round | 21 Mar 2011
Cameron Smith has nerve and plenty of it!
This was evident during the final round of the Australian Amateur Stroke championship at the majestic Victoria Golf Club as Smith overcame a determined Englishman, David Coupland, to win the title with a birdie on the first play-off hole after the pair finished locked at 13-under-par.
Coupland had fired a closing 7-under-par, 65, on the final day to place pressure on Smith who’d finished with a 4-under-par 68, after holding the tournament lead since Thursday and having entered the final day three ahead of New Zealander, Ben Campbell and the Englishman.
Had it not been for clutch birdies flowing from the Smith putter on the 17th and 18th holes at Victoria, this stroke title could easily have fallen into foreign hands and being claimed by the English again, a feat last achieved by Dale Whillett at Royal Adelaide in 2008.
Smith during today’s final round at Victoria displayed a style of golf of pure determination and focus as he hunted down Coupland after the Englishman was quick out of the blocks, turning the opening nine in 5-under-par to have a two stroke advantage at the turn.
“I’m lost for words,” says Smith about his win after rounds of 66-71-70-68 to finish 13-under-par with Coupland.
“I held some clutch putts there toward the end and that kept me in there with a chance and got me across the line. To win the Australian Amateur Stroke title, well as I’ve said, I’m lost for words really.”
The title certainly did not fall easily into Smith’s hands as Coupland delivered a display of precision golf as if he had the Victorian layout in his hands and at one stage looked to threatened the course record of 63.
The final round effectively turning into the classic match play scenario as Smith and Coupland battled for the title hole for hole during the closing stages of the round.
Smith’s 6 footer putt on the 17th, after finding the fairway bunker from the tee, will probably be considered the match clincher. Having said that there were numerous clutch scenarios made by Smith during today’s final round.
The par saving approach in the 14th at Victoria certainly kept Smith in the mix, as did his 6 footer putt on the 18th to respond to Coupland’s birdie putt to force the play off. Smith’s round arguably goes down as one of the classics of Australian Amateur golf in recent years, simply put it was majestic as he responded to the challenge laid down by Coupland.
“It was certainly a tight situation over the last few holes,” said Smith.
“This is easily the biggest thrill so far in my career to win this title. I’m feeling confident and will head into the match play with plenty of confidence.”
New Zealand’s, Ben Campbell, secured another stellar finish in a main amateur event with a 3rd place finish at 9-under-par after rounds of 71-69-70-69 to finish well clear of nearest rivals, Marika Batibasaga and Vaughan McCall who both finished at 3-under-par and in a tie for 4th position.
The Australian Amateur Stroke title represents Smith’s biggest amateur win to date and he secured the title in style, hanging in there when the pressure mounted. Smith displayed a style of golf well beyond his years and sent a message in the process that he has game, form and style to win events of this nature. No longer will Smith be considered the formative player from the Australian junior ranks, as he proved his mantel today and shown in the process the game that he has.
A worthy winner of the Australian Amateur Stroke title, Smith starts the match play segment full of confidence and poise as we get down the the business end of the Australian Amateur Championship with the top-32 qualifiers doing battle over the next three days at Victoria Golf Club in Melbourne.
With the likes of Bryden MacPherson, Nathan Holman, Tim Hart, Kalem Richardson, Ryan Fox and Brody Ninyette, to name a few, all qualifying for the match play segment of the Australian Amateur Championship, we are set for a thrilling week at Victorian Golf Club as this Australian Amateur heads towards another stage of the championship.