British Lions look set to roar at Lake Macquarie
BY Anthony Powter | Australian Mens Amateur Tour | 2007 Lake Macquarie Amateur | Preview | 24 Jan 2007
» Photo Gallery – 2007 Avondale Amateur Medal
There’s only four in number and between them are over 200 appearances for England, a trophy collection that includes countless UK amateur championships, the British Amateur, Czech Amateur and numerous runners up places all major European Amateur Championships. The word “Elite”, which the English Golf Union uses to identify it’s top ranking squad currently touring Australia, is appropriate.
The tourists bring a mix of youth and experience, David Horsey at 21 is the youngest, whilst Gary Wolstenholme, who is well known from his many ventures down under, is the senior of the team. Stephen Lewton makes his maiden tour to Australia having spent the past five years in the US Collegiate system and Matthew Cryer, a former Czech Amateur Champion, makes up the four.
This was only reinforced at the Avondale Amateur Medal when Stephen Lewton fired a course record 68 in the second round to claim the title, in an event which many internationals and top ranked Australian amateurs played in preparation for this week’s Lake Macquarie International at Belmont Golf Club.
Lewton has an impressive string of amateur achievements having finished in the last 16 in the British Amateur, English Amateur and runner up in the European Amateur. The last four years Lewton played out of North Carolina State, making the All American Team and winning the Seminole Inter-Collegiate in 2006.
Many are predicting he’s a good chance to win at Belmont this week and repeat Adam Gee’s performance, who last year became the fourth English player in twenty years to claim the Lake Macquarie Amateur. Gee’s since turned professional, like many who claimed the championship at Belmont including US Tour player, Jarrod Lyle who won the event back to back in 2003/4 and Asian Tour player Marc Leishman in 2005.
The tight and majestic layout that is Avondale is in contrast to Belmont which is more a links course that’s open and exposed to the elements. At Belmont the scores are either low or blow out when the conditions deteriorate. A course of this nature you think should favour the English.
The use of Avondale Medal in preparation for the upcoming major amateur championships is superb strategic planning by the English Golf Union.
A week from the Lake Macquarie Amateur, the Avondale layout, which is virtually cut out of the Australian bush, represents a stern test of golf that requires precision driving from the tee and close iron shots to pins that are in challenging positions on the tiered greens, perfect conditions to get your game in order. Three of their four member team finished the event in the top ten.
In contrast, the majority of Australia’s National Squad members have rested. They’re scheduled to have their first real hit out in an “international game” with the visiting European Teams at Belmont during the week.
Australia’s National squad includes a number of new faces following the departures of Mitchell Brown, Andrew Tampion, Ashley Hall and Stephen Dartnall – all of whom have graduated to the professional ranks. It will be interesting to see how the fresh recruits perform in what is considered one of the biggest amateur tournaments on the Australian schedule.
At present, the English have one title in as many starts since arriving in the country only five days ago. You can be sure the likes of Rick Kulacz, Tim Stewart and Andrew Dodt will be in the face of the tourists at Belmont, trying to put a damper on the Brit’s early picnic.
Kulacz comes off a brilliant end of year run with victories in two national selection events (The Federal Amateur and The Dunes Medal) not to mention his historic win on the Von Nida Tour in the NSW Open Championship and the strong finish in the Australian Open last November.
After a few weeks off over the Christmas period, Kulacz is keen to keep the momentum going and should be a real chance this week. The problem appears to be the English Elite Squad members, who unlike their cricket team mates, are pocketing results fast and if their performances at Avondale were any indication; they’re ready to make a huge roar this summer.
Photos – Anthony Powter