Date: June 15, 2009

PREVIEW: The Amateur Championship

With assistance from the R&A AIS/Golf Australia National Squad members Matt Jager, Daniel Nisbet, Jason Scrivener and Brendan Smith together with National Squad member Bryden Macpherson will tee it up on Monday night (AEST) at The Amateur Championship. Nisbet comes off the back of a fourth placed finish at the St Andrews Links Trophy while Jager was recently crowned New Zealand Amateur Champion and won three of his four matches at The Ashes last week. Macpherson, the current New Zealand Stroke Play Champion and Srixon Australian Stroke Play champion will look to kickstart his European campaign at Formby and West Lancashire Golf Clubs. 2008 Amateur champion, Dutchman Reinier Saxton is in Formby this week as he attempts to become the first man to successfully defend the title since Peter McEvoy in 1978. The 21-year-old s 3&2 victory over Tommy Fleetwood at Turnberry last year ensured that he became only the second Dutchman to win the title in the 113 times that the event has been staged. Saxton is finding form at just the right time after an impressive showing at Jack Nicklaus Memorial Tournament. Competing against the very best players on the PGA Tour, he made the cut, out-performing the likes of Vijay Singh and Padraig Harrington in the process. And The Open Championship and Masters Tournament experience that he has accrued over the last 12 months as a result of his victory will surely stand him in good stead. Once again, standing his way will be 2008 finalist, Tommy Fleetwood who will be looking to go one better than he did last year when he was only 36-holes away from becoming The Amateur Championship s youngest-ever winner. Like Saxton, the 18-year-old from Southport is also enjoying a good run of form having comprehensively won the Scottish Stroke Play Championship by eight shots at the Murcar Links two weeks ago. He is currently 25th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), just five places below the reigning champion. The current WAGR number two, Canada s Matt Hill (West Lancs 11.07am), will cross the Atlantic to take his place as the highest-ranked player in the field. Last week he followed in the footsteps of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson when he was presented with the Jack Nicklaus Award for the best golfer in the NCAA Division 1. He has registered seven wins in his last eight events, including a victory at the NCAA Division 1 Championship two weeks ago in Toledo, Ohio, and will be one to look out for at Formby and West Lancs. Also competing will be Nicol Van Wyk of South Africa, currently number seven in the Ranking, and England s Tom Sherreard who finished tied 19th at the 2008 Open Championship, narrowly losing out to Chris Wood as the highest-placed amateur at Birkdale. The Amateur Championship takes place at Formby and West Lancashire golf clubs from Monday 15 Saturday 20 June.