Monday qualifier McCormack leads at Belmont
BY Anthony Powter | Australian Mens Amateur Tour | 2007 Lake Macquarie Amateur | Round One | 25 Jan 2007
Local knowledge and an early tee time favoured Novcastrian Andrew McCormack as he takes a one shot lead over National Squad member Rudi Bezuidenhout in the opening round of the Lake Macquarie Amateur Championship.
With any course exposed to the elements like Belmont, those who get out early enjoy the benefits of calmer conditions before the wind picks up. Today’s first round scores reflected exactly that. With the field reversed tomorrow, this will prove the real litmus test as to whether similar scores will follow for the current overnight leaders, the majority of whom played in the morning round.
If past results are any indication, come Sunday the winner should score between 17 to 20 under par; an average of four 68’s each day’s play. Obviously conditions will play a factor, but there’s a swag of talent like Andrew Dodt, Rick Kulacz, Justin Roach all at one under 71, not to mention Gary Wolstenholme and Richie Gallichan sitting two under.
Whilst it’s early days in the Championship, you cannot help but notice Aaron Pike, the amateur who wooed the Melbourne fans during last year’s MasterCard Masters, is positioned to be a real threat only two behind the leader.
Pike, like all other top ranked amateurs are acutely aware the Lake Macquarie Amateur carries Royal & Ancient World Amateur points as well as being a National Selection trial. Pike’s last performance in the Dunes Medal, another selection event when he finished well down the field was a real let down following his Masters performance a few weeks prior. Pike is obviously keen to post a better result this week to impress national selectors and build on the Masters momentum.
McCormack, who is close friends with tour professional James Nitties, shares a similarity with Aaron Pike, both were grade cricketers who’ve taken golf up at a later stage. McCormack, who made the event proper through Monday qualification, is currently an unknown quantity.
The locals at Charlestown Golf Club, Nitties same training ground, claim McCormack’s taken to the game with gusto and has immense talent as a ball striker; he’ll need to be with an afternoon tee time tomorrow.
With considerable opportunity for movement and with named players keeping within striking distance of the current leader, the championship will again unfold promising players as it’s done in previous years.
The last five winners, Nick Dougherty (2001), Chris Campbell (2002) Jarrod Lyle, who won consecutive championships in 2003-4, Marc Leishman (2005) and Adam Gee(2006) have all since become professionals and have played in tournaments around the world. This all points towards the importance of this event on the Amateur circuit and it’s use as a stepping stone towards the hope of a successful professional career.