The Aussie Open: An Amateur's Dream
BY Anthony Powter | Australasian PGA Tour | 2007 Australian Open | Round One | 13 Dec 2007
During an informal chat at Tuesday evening’s Australian Open cocktail party function, Geoff Ogilvy told the attentive forum present that to play in an Australian Open was one of his life long goals as an amateur. To win his first as a professional, well that would be icing on the cake.
It’s true to say our national championship retains a special place for our main touring players, who welcome the opportunity for a brief respite from the grind of the overseas tours, and to return home to play in their own backyard.
Imagine then if you’re an amateur and you’ve made it into the main draw of the Australian Open or even better, obtained an exemption to play.
It’s a feat that many of our seasoned professionals were never able to achieve or even had the opportunity to experience.
“I only found out on Sunday that I got a start,” remarked Josh Younger, who as a member of the National Squad received a late invitation to join the field.
“But it just a wonderful opportunity to go out there and give it your best.”
Fourteen amateurs representing the cream of our amateur crop have made their way into the Australian Open draw. There are some, like Matthew Giles, Jason Scrivener and Daniel Beckmann, yet to have their 21st birthday. Others, like Tim Stewart, have played previous Australian Opens.
Giles’ path into the tournament was more complicated than most of his colleagues. The former World Junior Champion needed to eagle the 1st playoff hole in Monday’s Final Qualifying, to make it through to join Scott Smith and Scott Arnold, who also qualified from the Liverpool Golf Club sectional event.
Federal Amateur champion, Daniel Beckmann came in as the second top qualifier at Long Reef and was joined by Chris Austin and Ryan Lynch, who also made it through.
Others, like our current top ranked amateur, Rohan Blizard, as well as British Amateur runner-up, Tim Stewart, and Matthew Griffin had earlier received invitations to play.
The Australian Open in Sydney this week will hopefully be the beginning of a journey they will never forget, as they strive to repeat Aaron Baddeley’s efforts in 1999 at Royal Sydney, and become just the third post-war period amateur to win the Australian Open Championship.
Baddeley’s efforts became even more special, when he returned the next year as a professional at Kingston Heath to claim back-to-back Championships.
“This year I have an number of goals and making the main draw of the Australian Open is certainly one you have as an amateur,” remarked Daniel Beckmann.
“As an amateur playing there is no real pressure on you, only that which you put on yourself, but many of us are motivated by what Aaron [Baddeley] did and that reinforces that you can pull it off.”
Beckmann is not alone in the motivation stakes. All the amateurs are obviously eager to play well at The Australian Golf Club and most appear to be not in any way daunted by the prospect of the challenge.
“Some of us are only just back from Argentina and went straight into the AIS camp to prepare for this week and just cannot wait to tee it up,” commented Matthew Griffin, who was part of Australia’s winning Southern Cross team with Tim Stewart, Rohan Blizard and Justin Roach.
Early morning scoring has seen Josh Younger turn his opening nine with a respectable even par, however, technical problems with a newly introduced scoring system has made it difficult to determine exactly what’s actually happening on the course.
One thing is at least for certain, the amateur contingent at this year’s Australian Open are not only savouring the experience, but determined to make the most of this opportunity and maybe even deliver a surprise in the process.