Michael Williams secured his biggest amateur win to date with the NSW Amateur Stroke Play Championship in Newcastle.
Williams, 19, finished the four round qualification event at 14-under-par after rounds of 67-69-67-70 and a two-stroke win over Victoria's, Jin Jeong. Queensland's, Tim Hart finished in 3rd position at 11-under-par, followed by Rhys McGovern and Jake Higginbottom in a tie for 4th at 7-under-par.
In his first full year on the major amateur circuit since progressing from the junior ranks, Williams has been quick to make his mark and the win at the NSW Amateur Stroke Play was not only timely, but well deserved.
Last October Williams won the Jack Newton International Junior Classic at The Oaks Golf Club in Cessnock. Two year's ago Williams also won the NSW State Age championship as a 17-year-old and has twice made the cut at the NSW Open, after qualifying in 2007-08, finishing the second best amateur behind Brendan Smith at The Vintage in 2008.
"I've done a lot of hard work with my coach, John Sherhan, over the last few months," remarked Williams during a practice round at St Michael's on Saturday.
"It's great to be were I am as the number 1 qualifier going into the NSW Amateur, but the number 1 can be beaten by the number 32 easily as there are so many good players through in this championship."
Williams will certainly have his work cut out for himself as he's drawn fellow state representative, Luke Henwood, in the first round of the elimination match-play segment starting Monday at Royal Sydney with the 36 hole final scheduled for Wednesday.
"I striking the ball well and looking forward to playing a great course like Royal Sydney and getting into the match-play game. I've no real expectations going into this championship, in fact my goal at the start was to try and make the cut in stroke, so it's exciting to be where I currently am."
Williams' results on the amateur stage have been impressive, starting with his first international tour to Scotland last year where he played a number of Scottish Golf Union events. This included a 3rd-place finish in July at the Cameron Corbett Vase, a world amateur ranking event.
Last April Williams made the top-32 at the Australian Amateur at Royal Queensland and has performed strongly in National Trial events since. A tied 11th finish at the NEC Master of the Amateurs, in arguably the strongest ever international field to play an Australian Amateur event, again revealed how Williams' game is going from strength to strength.
"My game is continually on the improve," says Williams a member of the New South Wales Institute of Sport program which has supported him for the last few years.
"It is down now more to my putting, as I've been hitting greens in regulation at lot more this summer.I would not say that I'm confident going into this championship, but I'm certainly striking the ball well."
Positioned in the top half of the draw, Williams' opening match against Henwood is sure to be a tough assignment. Should Williams progress through this match, you tend to favour his chances to progress strongly at this championship.
Defending champion, Michael Smyth, finished the 27th qualifier and will meet Mona Vale's, Kyle Grant in the first round. Keep an eye this week on England's, Tommy Fleetwood, after the world number 16 finished the 7th qualifier.
Fleetwood is off a tied 7th at the Lake Macquaire Amateur and the Walker Cup representative is a seasoned campaigner with match-play, which will be an invaluable asset as the NSW Amateur Championship unfolds this week at Royal Sydney.
About The Author : Anthony Powter
Anthony brings a vast array of experience having covered the world's biggest golf Tours. An experienced photojournalist, his aim is to bring golf to life with articles of interest coupled with stunning photography.