Amateurs eye off Australian Open
BY Anthony Powter | Australasian PGA Tour | 2008 Australian Open | General | 10 Dec 2008
This week at Royal Sydney will hopefully be the beginning of a long journey for the fifteen amateurs in the starting line up as they strive to repeat Aaron Baddeley’s efforts in 1999 and become just the third post-war period amateur to win the Australian Open Championship.
World number one Danny Lee spearheads the amateur line up, followed by Australia’s highest ranked player and the world’s number 16, Matt Jager. The two are supported by seasoned world amateur Scott Arnold, Michael Foster and the current Australian Amateur Champion, Norway’s Anders Kristiansen.
All were exempted from pre-qualifying through recent performances and world amateur ranking. The others like Daniel Beckmann and Grant Scott had to endure pre-qualification rounds in order to gain a start.
“It’s all about the experience,” says Beckmann, winner of the 2007 Federal Amateur and competing in his second Australian Open.
“Playing in events like the Australian Open shows you just how good you have to be to complete. It opens your eyes as to how much you need to improve.”
Scott Arnold, winner of the prestigious Riversdale Cup back in March, also relishes the opportunity to play amongst the bigger events with this also his second Australian Open.
“The way the layout is in these events is vastly different,” he says. “If you play well you will score well and that’s the challenge.”
Michael Foster shares the same view as Arnold.
“This is my first Aussie Open and I just want to enjoy the experience and try and make it to the weekend,” says the 2007 Rice Planters champion and 2008 Australian Amateur runner-up.
In February both Foster and Arnold will attend Asian Q-School with the objective of turning professional. It’s a similar objective that is shared by the majority of the amateurs competing this week, with the exception of Jason Perry.
Perry obtained an exemption following his win in the Australian Mid-Amateur Championship earlier in the year and the Victorian is just here for the experience.
Have a thought also for Brett Rankin who was sent packing for his clubs at a moments notice after Adam Scott’s announcement on Tuesday of yet another non-attendance at an Australian event. Rankin was rewarded a start for his stellar finishes in the Australian Amateur and Queensland Medal this season.
Those not so lucky to be getting a start include seasoned amateur Josh Younger, who for some reason was erased off the exemption amateur list upon indicating to officials of his desire to pre-qualify at The Masters and then later play the Australian Tour School as a professional.
Younger unfortunately missed qualifying for the event by a few shots at Liverpool last Monday. In all the circumstances given the amateur performances Younger has exhibited throughout his career, both locally and abroad, as well as his commitment towards main Australian amateur events, it could easily be seen a case of rough justice.
Whilst amateur victories since 1945 at the Australian Open have been few and far between, Royal Sydney was the last occasion an amateur held the Stonehaven Cup, with Aaron Baddeley’s efforts in 1999.
Danny Lee continues to fire at the bigger events, with the current US Amateur Champion gaining valuable experience playing the PGA Tour on sponsor’s invites and making the cut by three strokes at the PGA Tour Wyndham Championship in his maiden PGA Tour start. Lee finished a creditable T32 at the Singapore Open last month, to be followed by a T11 finish in his last event at the Masters in Melbourne.
Lee has the game and talent to win this championship and started his campaign today at Royal Sydney to be currently in tied 7th position at 4-under-par and three strokes from the leaders.
Whether Lee can join the likes of Bruce Devlin (1960) and Aaron Baddeley (1999) will be a matter to see as the tournament unfolds. Lee is pure talent and he’ll certainly will be keeping an eye on the trophy as he does battle with the more favoured professionals in this tournament.