Date: April 29, 2011

Matt Stieger leads Strong Field for SA Classic

By Anthony Powter Matt Stieger (NSW) will lead a 98 strong field at the South Australian Classic being played this week at Glenelg Golf Club, south of Adelaide. The event rightly attracts National Ranking status with a stellar field that features 9 of the top 20 Australian ranked amateurs and 15 of the top 20 Australian ranked players. From a handicap perspective the figures are even more impressive with 57 of the 98 men’s entrants holding handicaps of scratch or better. Nathan Homan, winner of the 2011 Riversdale Cup back in March, is the lowest marker on an impressive +3.5. With a field that s littered with talent predicting who will be holding the silverware on Sunday is fraught with danger because there is simply too many contenders capable of claiming a title previously won by Brett Ogle (1995), Peter O Malley (1996), Stuart Appleby (1992), Greg Chalmers (1994) and Brett Rumford (1996). Defending champion Brad Moules is a player to follow this week in Adelaide after a stellar effort earlier this month where he added to his 2010 SA Classic title with victory with the SA Amateur Championship. Last year Moules, who plays out of Royal Adelaide, overcame nerves and a horror closing stretch to eventually take out the championship with a stroke win over Ryan McCarthy and Jason Scrivener. Moules fired rounds of 73-65-68-78 to finish at even par for the tournament, yet the victory did not come without a fight after Moules lost seven shots in the last three holes. McCarthy remains out injured and Scrivener has since turned professional. Moules 2011 SA Amateur final opponent and two times former amateur champion Chris Austin has also shown strong recent form and again much interest will centre on the performance of 2010 Australian Junior Amateur champion, Anthony Murdaca. Stieger is coming off a tied third finish last week at Mandurah and this season has dominated National Selection events with wins at the Tasmanian Open and Australian Amateur Championship, as well as collecting the Western Australian Amateur and finishing up runner-up to Nathan Holman at the Riversdale Cup. While Stieger game at Mandurah was a little patchy, the world number 15 is a tenacious competitor and he will certainly be a threat to the field in Adelaide in pursuit of another main amateur title. Kalem Richardson is another to follow with the 2011 Tasmanian Amateur champion coming off a top-10 finish at Mandurah where he was one of just eight to break par for the tournament. The Melbourne based Tasmanian this season has secured top-10 finishes at the Master of the Amateurs and at the Tasmanian Open. Richardson is a seasoned competitor who should contest well at these championships, particularly should he be in on of the final groups on Sunday. Jordan Zunic last week in Western Australia peeled off an impressive 8-under-par third round at Mandurah to elevate his position up the leader board where the NSW Junior representative went on to record a tied 3rd finish along with Stieger and Geoff Drakeford. Zunic made the top-16 recently at the New South Wales Amateur and is the 2010 NSW Boy s champion. A product of the Jack Newton Foundation, Zunic is ready to collect a main amateur title and he certainly has the game to win in Adelaide. Ranked 51st in the world, Brett Drewitt should never to be discounted in main Australian amateur events. Despite a disappointing closing performance at the Riversdale Cup where he held the lead for the better part of the final day only to let it slip over the closing holes with an uncharacteristic string of bogies, Drewitt s consistency is impressive and he oozes natural talent. Drewitt during 2010 was the only Australian to secure an international with his 4&3 victory over American, Cory Renfrew, at the 109th Pacific Northwest Amateur Championship at Royal Colwood Golf Club in Victoria, British Columbia. A majestic striker of the ball, the 20-year-old has quickly established himself of one of our main amateurs. Drewitt this season have played solid golf making the top-16 at the NSW Amateur, a top-10 finish at the Lake Macquaire Amateur and a top-15 at the Master of the Amateurs. With a tied 8th finish last week at Mandurah, Drewitt has elected to compete in South Australia as opposed to defend his Queensland Amateur Championship title, an event which conflicts with the running of the South Australian Classic. It’s also worth while to keep a watch on big hitting Lincoln Tighe. Tighe was instrumental with Moore Park s Pennant Flag win in the 2011 Sydney Metropolitan Pennant Series where he played the top order position and accounted for a number of prized scalps. A NSW State representative for the last three years, Tighe was the 2009 NSW State Amateur Medallist and in 2009 he qualified for British Amateur Championship and tied for 2nd at the 2011 State Medal. I also tend to favour strong performances again will be shown by Rory Burke, Geoff Drakeford, Brody Ninyette and Daniel Bringolf, all of whom had top-15 finishes last week in Western Australia. The cut of leading 36 plus ties will be made following Friday s second round with a seeded draw for the final rounds on Saturday and Sunday.