Survival of the fittest at British Amateur
BY Anthony Powter | European Amateur Tour | 2006 British Amateur Championship | Round Three | 22 Jun 2006
It is at major amateur championships where the big name players in start to rise to the top. Englishman Gary Wolstenholme, the British Amateur champion of 1991 and 2003 is gaining momentum in pursuit of his third British Amateur title when he disposed of former Australian Amateur champion Andrew Martin 2 & 1.
Sure there will be big name causalities along the way, like Won Joon Lee and Tim Stewart’s sudden departure after failing to make the match play qualifiers following disappointing stroke play rounds. Both Lee, Australia’s top ranked amateur and Stewart, our National champion, would certainly have been expecting better performances and for them it would have obviously been a disappointing week with Lee having two successive 77’s to finish 96th and Stewart’s 82 and 77 to finish T180th.
2006 has seen Jamie Arnold, the boy from the Southern Shire of Sydney, burst onto the major amateur scene. Twelve months ago the name Jamie Arnold would not have generated much interest. Today it’s well known within the Australian amateur ranks following Arnold’s performances in the Australian Amateur and the Tasmanian Open.
Arnold has been a surprise package in Australian Amateur golf and the National Squad member rightly deserves to be taken seriously as a contender for the British Amateur title.
Arnold has a game, which is well suited to the links and disposed of Hekki Mantyla of Finland 3 & 2 in the second round of match play. Arnold is certainly a player to watch and will need to be in his best form as he is scheduled to play Scottish international Scott Jamieson in the next round early tomorrow morning.
Jamieson, a product of the US Collegiate golf system having played out of Augusta State University, will be no easy opponent for Arnold. Arnold will be looking for a similar result to when Won Joon Lee disposed of Jamieson in the quarter finals of the NSW Amateur at Concord Golf Club in February this year.
The Scottish Boys Stroke Play Champion and Palmer Cup player will be a stern challenge for Arnold and whilst on paper the Scot looks the better player, Arnold will bring to the match the momentum and confidence he’s gained having finished 2nd qualifier in the stroke play format earlier in the week.
Stephen Dartnall should also never be discounted and is a perennial threat in any major amateur championship. The Western Australian has played solidly in the Australian summer winning the Riversdale Cup and finishing runner up in the Tasmanian Open.
Dartnall will encounter Englishman Jason Palmer, the 2005 Volkswagen Masters World Championship winner. Palmer, a former British Open qualifier in 2005, will also be stiff competition for Dartnall, the 6th ranked amateur in the world however Dartnall’s form in finishing runner up in last week’s St Andrews Links Trophy is bound to give the Australian the edge against the Englishman.
Mitchell Brown is the third and final Australian to survive the elimination match play rounds after disposing Englishman James Smith 3 & 1 in the second round.
Brown is one of Australia’s most consistent amateurs during the last twelve months with impressive international performances in South Africa, New Zealand and locally in Australia. Brown, the 2005 NSW and New Zealand Amateur Champion, played into contention in every main Australian Amateur championship this summer as has a reputation as being one of the world’s best amateur match players.
Those that work with Brown like Peter Knight describe him as having one of the best mental minds in the game. Brown is scheduled to play Rhys Davies, a former British Boys Champion who plays out of the University of East Tennessee in the US whilst completing a business degree. Davies represented Wales in the 2004 World Amateur Championship and is a class player. You would expect that Brown’s consistency to date should give the 8th ranked world amateur the upper hand in the match.
The British Amateur is now down to the final 32 players and Australia has three of it’s best amateurs alive. Mitchell Brown being in the upper half of the draw probably has the better run to the final of the Australians and should he progress through he’ll meet either Oliver Fisher or Stephen Lewton both from England.
Photo – Anthony Powter