They are the next wave of Australian golf, and they can play. Remarkable performances by amateurs have been a highlight of the Emirates Australian Open this week, with three members of Golf Australia&aposs elite squad all making their mark. On Friday it was Perth&aposs Brady Watt who leapt to prominence, reaching a top-five position in the tournament with his 68 to go with an opening 70. Today, it was South Australia&aposs Anthony Murdaca, 18, whose 66 came playing alongside former Open champion Robert Allenby. The symbolism was evident; possibly there is a changing of the guard. Allenby shot 70, four shots higher. “It was really exciting playing with Rob Allenby today,&apos&apos said Murdaca. I got off to a good start through those first few holes, got it to one-under then making a birdie on six and eagle on seven really pumped me up.&apos&apos Murdaca, a two-time Australian boys&apos champion, previously played the Open at The Lakes in 2010, missing the cut by a shot. “To be honest, my expectations were to make the cut and have the best finish possible. After having a good first round, then making the cut yesterday with two-over, I thought I&aposd just come out there and do the best I can and prove to myself that I can match it.&apos&apos He watched Allenby closely. “It&aposs inspiring playing with someone who&aposs so experienced. It was good watching him, seeing what he does differently to me as an amateur. I think I got a bit out of him. “That (beating the Victorian) was the plan. I was happy to beat him. But it was good for me to play with someone who&aposs won so many great events.&apos&apos Victoria&aposs 15-year-old Ryan Ruffels also had an excellent day, carding a 68 to finish at four-under for the tournament, despite a double bogey at the par-three 17th when his tee shot lodged under a bush, right of the green. Ruffels, a year 10 student at Haileybury College in Melbourne, finished his final examinations just three weeks ago (scoring better than 80 percent in all of them), but when he tapped in for birdie on the 16th hole he was up on the leaderboard in an Australian Open. “It&aposs a pity. It&aposs an extremely tough hole. Not a five-hole but I got unlucky,&apos&apos he said. “It was disappointing that late in the round to have that sort of score but you move on, I guess. That was the worst score I could&aposve had today. I missed two three-footers, missed a couple of six-footers. That was as bad as I could&aposve shot. I hit it really good.&apos&apos Ruffels, the son of former Australian Davis Cup tennis player Ray, ended up just outside the top 15. “I guess when I was seven-over through six (holes) in the first round, I would&aposve taken that.&apos&apos Members of GA&aposs elite amateur program have a camp next week, while many of them will soon move on to the Victorian amateur championships at Commonwealth and Kingston Heath in a fortnight.
Author: Martin Blake At Royal Sydney