Stieger & Campbell in Aust Am Final

BY Anthony Powter | Australian Mens Amateur Tour | 2011 Australian Amateur Championship | Grand Final | 23 Mar 2011

Matt Stieger and Ben Campbell will contest tomorrow’s final of the 2011 Australian Amateur Championship at Victoria Golf Club in Melbourne.

In the morning quarter finals Campbell defeated Brad Moules 1-up to set up his afternoon semi final against fellow countryman, Ryan Fox after Fox had disposed of England’s David Coupland. Fox pushed Campbell to the wire in their encounter with Campbell clinching the match on the 21st hole.

Campbell had made a hot start against his teammate Fox to progress to 2-up after nine holes to be effectively 5-under par for the front nine. He then moved to be 3-up with four holes to play before Fox got one back with a birdie on the 15th, another with a par on the 17th and then a brilliant tap-in eagle on the par-5, 18th to send the match into extra holes.

“It was a tough match and could have gone either way,” said Campbell.

Campbell thought he had won the contest when his 4 metre birdie on the first extra hole slid in and then out of the cup. His celebration fit-pump proving premature.

“I got a little excited thinking that I’d nailed the putt, but it lipped the cup,” commented Campbell.

The pair halved the second playoff and Campbell got the job done when he two-putted from 20 metres while Fox failed to get up and down out of the bunker. The match was a classic display by both players of determination and skill and, as in these cases, disappointing to have a looser arise from the match.

“It was my putting that got the job done for me today,” remarked Campbell.

“My ball striking was solid, like it has been all week, but it was my putting that kept me in there today. I’ve another opportunity tomorrow to win an event and I’m excited about it.”

Campbell’s final appearance sets the stage again for the New Zealander to claim his first maiden amateur win in Australia after finishing runner up to Matt Jager in this event last year in Perth and following his stellar amateur performances this Australian summer where Campbell has either led or being in the lead going into the final round of a main amateur tournament.

“I’m looking forward to our match,” says Campbell.

“I’ve never played against Matt [Stieger], but have a lot of respect for his game and what he’s done recently. The plan will be to keep it simple, fairways and greens as 36 holes is a test and hopefully I can finally get a win here.”

Stieger’s progression to the final was through victories over Tim Hart, 2&1, in the quarter final and a solid 2&1 win over Bryden MacPherson in the afternoon semi final. Last week Stieger was narrowly defeated by Nathan Holman after a 3 hole sudden death play off at the Riversdale Cup.

“To make the final of your national event is something amazing,” says Stieger.

“I’ve had a few tough matches coming into this final, so hopefully I’ll be match fit against Ben. I plan to keep the bogies off my card and be aggressive where I can and see how that goes.”

Stieger has featured strongly recently in National Trial events with a tied 3rd at the 2010 Lake Macquarie Amateur, a runner-up finish behind Jason Scrivener at the 2010 Mandurah Easter Amateur back and in just his maiden tour to the US, won his first major amateur stroke event at the 2010 Pacific North West Amateur.

This season Stieger secured a wire-to-wire victory at the 2011 Tasmanian Open at Kingston Beach, bolting from the field on his back nine to record a seven-shot victory with a 13-under-par total for his first national selection event title.

“I’ve being working on my goals and trying to play the best I can. That meant taking one hole at the time and keeping in the moment out there on the course. The Tasmanian Open was a massive win for me, the Riversdale Cup was a little disappointing especially because I had that chance to win on the second play off hole but the putt came up just short of the hole. It confirms the work that I’ve done is paying off.”

Stieger is originally from Bellata Golf Club just outside Narrabri, a country town in New South Wales. In recent times his being honing his game under the watchful eye of John Serhan at St Michael’s on Sydney’s eastern seaboard. His progression to the main amateur ranks has been cemented and Stieger has certainly established himself as a marque player in the Australian Amateur ranks.

His progression to tomorrow’s Australian Amateur Championship final is reflecting of Stieger’s move into the main amateur stage.

As to who will win this year’s Australian Amateur championship is anyones guess. That’s the uniqueness of this event, 36 holes match play, the pressures of seeking one of the most prized trophies in Australian Amateur golf and the honour of claiming a national title, be that your own or another countries.

Campbell and Stieger are worthy contenders for the title and it sets the stage for an exciting final day. Campbell in search of that first Australian win, Stieger the ever gritty player looking to see that Campbell misses another championship and in the process claim his national title.

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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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