Aussies ready to fire at British Amateur
BY Anthony Powter | European Amateur Tour | 2006 British Amateur Championship | Preview | 19 Jun 2006
Won Joon Lee, Australia’s top ranked world amateur (4th), joins a strong Australian contingent in the British Amateur Championship, which starts this week at Royal St George’s and Prince’s Golf Clubs in Kent, England.
It has been an outstanding year so far for Won Joon Lee, with wins in the New South Wales Medal and the New South Wales Amateur Championship coupled with a 2nd place in the South Australian Amateur. Lee will be aiming to improve on his disappointing 33rd in the St Andrews Links Trophy in last week’s lead up tournament before the Championship.
Stephen Dartnall, ranked the 6th world amateur from Western Australia, is one of nine Australians who include Tim Stewart, the Australian Amateur Champion and Andrew Martin, the former Australian Amateur Champion and winner this year in the Scottish Amateur Golf Association International.
Dartnall, who has stationed himself in the UK for the last few weeks, is exhibiting the consistent form that has him placed in the top ten world amateur ranking. The Western Australian played average golf during the Scottish Stroke Play Championship to finish well back in the field earlier this month, however, he bounced back last week to finish runner up in the St Andrews Links Trophy. This year’s Riversdale Cup champion is capable of taming the links and will be a player to watch as the Championship unfolds.
National Squad member Jamie Arnold is another who could be a surprise package. Arnold’s form in reaching the semi final in this years Australian Amateur, only to be knocked out by the eventually winner Tim Stewart on the first sudden death playoff hole, has elevated the boy from the Shire in Sydney’s south to the next level in amateur golf.
Arnold was instrumental in Cronulla’s Sydney Pennant final victory last month and his runner up finish in the 2005 Tasmanian Open has given the 23-year-old confidence to make his mark on the work amateur ranks. Following the Championship this week, Arnold is scheduled to travel to the US and join fellow Australian Justin Roach, Rohan Blizard and Jason Day in the main amateur tour events next month.
Another first timer lining up this week is Tristan Lambert, who surprised many last November in the 2005 NSW Open at his home club Liverpool in western Sydney shooting a course record equalling 63 on the third day to finish top 10 for the event. It will be interesting to follow Lambert’s progress this week and see how he performs at this international level. Queensland state team member Justin Maker and Stephen Carroll will also be looking to gain valuable experience this week.
In major amateur championship events you should never discount the ever consistent Mitchell Brown who will be eager to add to his NSW Amateur and New Zealand Amateur crowns and go one further than his runner up finish in this years Australian Amateur Championship.
Brown was in contention in virtually every main amateur championship in Australia this year and is coming off a top 5 finish in last week’s St Andrews Links Trophy. Provided the world number seven amateur can get his putter going this week, Brown is bound to be contender as he is a superb driver of the ball in windy conditions. Brown is open about his plans to turn professional at the end of the year to play professionally in the US. This week’s Championship will be Brown’s last chance to claim the oldest national amateur championship.
The British Amateur dates back to the 1857, although what became recognised as the first British Amateur Championship was held at Hoylake in 1885 where a total of 44 players from 12 clubs played for the title. Times have certainly changed as the first stage of the 2006 Championship involves 288 players each of whom will play two rounds of 18 holes, one to be played on each of the two courses.
The 64 lowest scores over the 36 holes and ties for 64th place will compete in the match play stage of the Championship, which will commence on Wednesday 21 June over Royal St George’s. Each match will consist of one round of 18 holes except the Final which will be over 36 holes.
There is then quite a bit of golf to be played before the Champion is determined and in match play strange upsets often occur and this can be expected this week.
The locals will be well represented with Robert Dinwiddie, the current holder of the Welsh and Scottish Stroke Play titles, Paul Waring, the English Champion, Jamie Moul, the Lytham Trophy winner and seasoned amateur Gary Wolstenholme, the British Amateur Champion of 1991 and 2003 and who was runner up to Won Joon Lee at this year’s New South Wales Amateur.
Australia’s chances are strengthened with the breadth of talent that has invaded the old foe’s territory. Given how the British performed in main amateur events this summer in Australia, including Adam Gee in the Lake Macquarie Amateur piping Jason Day at the post; it would be nice to reciprocate on their home soil in their biggest amateur event to bring the Championship trophy back to Australia.