Careers to be defined at Lake Macquarie Amateur
BY iseekgolf.com | Australian Mens Amateur Tour | 2006 Lake Macquarie Amateur | Preview | 24 Jan 2006
The who’s who of Australian amateur golf descends upon Belmont Golf Club this week to contest one of the most sought after amateur crowns on the Australian circuit, the Greater Building Society Lake Macquarie Amateur Championship. You only have to look at previous winners to realise the Championship is more akin to a pathway into the professional ranks than an amateur tournament.
The list of former winners is impressive and many are currently playing on the Japanese, European or USPGA Tours. It includes the likes of Peter O’Malley (1986), Stephen Leaney (1992), Geoff Ogilvy (1997), Brett Rumford (1998), Nick Dougherty (2001), Chris Campbell (2002) and Jarrod Lyle (2003-4).
What then is the attraction to play Belmont, a course that in recent years has copped considerable criticism from many players, particularly regarding state of its greens? The answer is simple but includes a number of factors.
It’s an event that provides the unique forum to play four rounds of golf under tournament conditions, not only against the best amateurs in Australia, but also a strong international lineup with players from USA, England, Scotland and Ireland.
The event is a national selection trial event which then leads to possible selection into a 10-15 member squad. Squad members form the basis of the National Team who are provided with a number of opportunities to represent Australia overseas in events like the World Amateur Championship, Four Nations Teams Championship as well as assistance with training camps and coaching.
The event is also steeped in history, having been first played in 1958. You only have to spend a few minutes in the snooker room at Belmont Golf Club to realise the enormity of the event and who has teed up. It’s a blast from the past as you are drawn to the paper clippings that sit proudly behind the glass panels with the likes of Rodger Davis with the flares and Jack Newton swinging a persimmon club.
In this respect there is a lot at stake and the current line up for this year championship includes the cream of Australian talent.
Former World Amateur Champion Jason Day will be looking to make his mark, especially on the back of his recent form in winning the 2006 NEC Master of the Amateurs. Fellow Queenslander Andrew Dolt is another player to watch. Dolt comes off an impressive Australian summer with fine performances in a number of professional events.
There are also a number of others who have the game and experience to take the title. Mitchell Brown will be looking to build on his 2005 NSW Amateur crown. Brown knows the course well and is a strong player in the wind. Likewise Won Joon Lee should not be discounted. Lee’s result in the 2004 Proton NSW Open proves he has the game and his length off the tee impressed not only the galleries but his playing partner in the final round, Peter Lonard.
Liverpool’s Tristan Lambert is another player to watch. Lambert has the game, experience having played a number of main amateur events in the US and can shoot low. During the 2005 Proton NSW Open when he equalled the course record and Lambert is primed to snatch a major amateur victory. Local favourite and Australian Golf Elite Squad member Rudi Bezuidenhout should not be left out of the equation either. He has the added advantage of knowing the course and pin locations better than any other player.
On the international front, last year’s NSW Medal winner and former British Amateur Champion Gary Wolstenholme made his regular pilgrimage to Australia. He’s played the event now for many years, has the experience at this level and loves the tournament. He’s certainly a danger should he be in the last eight players on Sunday.
Past results indicate the winner will need to shoot anything between 16-20 under par. There have been changes at Belmont Golf Club which appear to be for the better. A number of players following their practice rounds commented that the course is in great shape and capable of shooting low scores on.
We appear then to be set for a great tournament that, if past history is any indication, will strike a pathway to professional ranks for the winner.
Photo – Anthony Powter