A full field of 144 players, 106 men and 38 women will compete for South Australia’s premier Amateur Golf Championships, the Golf SA Men’s Amateur Classic and Women’s Rene Erichsen Salver partnered by W Sports & Media.
The Championships held concurrently from Monday 19 to Thursday 22 March will be played at the majestic Royal Adelaide Golf Club, host of the 2017 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
The 72 hole Championships which are classified as Golf Australia Order of Merit Events, have again attracted a stellar field of local, interstate and overseas talent.
SA Amateur Classic
The men’s field of 106 players features seven of the top 10 ranked players on the Golf Australia Order of Merit.
The quality of the field is further highlighted, by a record 95 players currently holding a GA handicap of scratch or better, with Japanese players, Takumi Kanaya and Ren Yonezawa the lowest markers off +4.7.
Such was the demand for spots, 39 entrants holding handicaps of 0.4 or above, were balloted from the championship.
A total of 27 local South Australian players will do battle against 70 interstate visitors, with 23 players from New South Wales, 18 Victoria, 17 Queensland, 7 Western Australia, 3 Tasmania, 1 ACT and 1 NT.
This year’s field will have an international flavor with seven high quality players from the Japan Golf Association competing, along with competitors from Singapore and Switzerland.
With the 2017 winner absent, Victorian, Zach Murray, favoritism lies with last year’s runner Minwoo Lee from Perth.
Lee, who won the United States Junior Championship in 2016 and in 2017 was runner-up at the Australian Amateur, is in great form, after making the quarter-finals of the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia’s World Super 6 Perth, which is co-sanctioned by both the Asian and European tours.
Top challengers to Lee, will be exceptional Japanese pair Takumi Kanaya ranked 80 in the world and Kazuya Osawa, who both joined the Western Australian in Qatar last week, as part of the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation Team, who had an epic victory over Europe in the Bonallack Trophy.
Matias Sanchez from Royal Melbourne will be another to watch after a stellar 2017, which included winning the Australian Amateur championship and the Silver Medal as low amateur (and T15 finish) at the Emirates Australian Open.
Sanchez placed third at Riversdale and with fellow clubman William Heffernan, who was runner up, will be strong contenders.
Local hopes will rest with Iowa State bound Jackson Kalz, the 2017 SA Vardon Trophy winner and Royal Adelaide’s Billy Cawthorne who should post some low rounds.
Jack Thompson from The Grange is another primed to do well, fresh from his exceptional win at the Riversdale Cup where he finished at 14-under, to win by five.
Thompson finished tied 22nd in Adelaide last year at 9-over and knows a score of around 10-under will be needed to claim the Classic.
“I’d like to push on, I don’t want to take a back seat and relax (after Riversdale). The person that I am, I’d just like to move on to bigger and better things. Now that I’ve won a national event it would be good to have one in my home state.” Thompson said.
“I find no reason why I can’t win again, there’s Minwoo playing and the Japan team, there’s lots of good names, it would be a really good one to win”.
“If you don’t think you are going to win, there’s no point in you playing, you’ve got to think you are going to win it, you need to have that belief”. Thompson added.
Others to watch are Queenslander Douglas Klein (T2 in 2017) and New South Welshman Nathan Barbieri (T24 in 2017).
Back at Royal Adelaide for a fourth straight year, the Classic was first played in 1985 as the SA Invitational and held for 25 years straight at Royal Adelaide until a switch to Glenelg for five years from 2010.
The Classic has produced an impressive list of former winners including Brett Ogle (NSW, 1995), Peter O’Malley (NSW, 1996), Stuart Appleby (Vic, 1992), Greg Chalmers (WA, 1994) and Brett Rumford (WA, 1996).
Five South Australian’s have won the Classic: Phil Roberts (1988), Rob Hammer (2000), Brad Moules (2010), Chris Brown (2012) and Antonio Murdaca in 2015.
Rene Erichsen Salver
The 2018 Rene Erichsen Salver boasts a quality line-up, with six of top 10 ranked players on the Golf Australia Order of Merit competing.
Of the 38 starters, 23 players in the field hold handicaps of scratch or better with Yuka Yasuda from Japan the lowest marker off +6.8.
There are 11 South Australian’s doing battle against 20 interstaters, a Korean and six players from Team Japan including four who are ranked in the top 100 amateurs in the world; Yuna Nishimura (ranked 41), Yuri Yoshida (61), Yuka Yasuda (64) and Ayaka Furue (89)
The Japanese contingent lead by Coach Gareth Jones, from Adelaide, will be hard to beat, but 19-year-old Rebecca Kay is in hot form after claiming last week’sRiversdale Cup in Melbourne.
The Queenslander has a great affinity with Royal Adelaide winning on the layout twice last year, first claiming the SA Junior Masters in January on the famous sandbelt course, then the Rene Erichsen itself in March, by three strokes, finishing 5-under.
Stephanie Bunque recently selected to represent Australia for the first time in the Queen Sirikit Cup team will be a strong challenger. The Victoria Golf Club member will be looking to add to the Victorian Amateur title she won in December.
Australian number one Grace Kim of Sydney’s Avondale Golf Club, the reigning Australian junior and SA Amateur Champion, has been mixing it with the best in recent weeks, first competing in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide, then going undefeated in the Asia-Pacific team’s triumph over Europe in Qatar last week.
Strong competition will come from Victorians Kono Matsumoto and Montana Strauss, ranked three and thirteenth respectively and from Western Australian Kathryn Norris, last year’s runner up, who has winning form at Royal after taking out the SA Junior Masters in January, with rounds of 71-72-72 finishing 4-under.
SA’s main hopes rest with Jin-young Yun from The Grange Golf Club and Charley Jacobs from Glenelg.
First played in 1967, the Salver has an impressive list of former winners including 5-time winner Jane Crafter, Anne-Marie Knight, Sarah Kemp and current world number 16 Minjee Lee in 2013.
The Golf SA Amateur Classic and Rene Erichsen Salver will be played from Monday 19th to Thursday 22nd March at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club.
Play commences from 8am Monday and Tuesday with a cut after 36 holes. The leading 60 men plus ties and 18 women plus ties, qualify for the 3rd and 4th rounds from 8.00am Wednesday and Thursday.
Entry is free. Spectators are welcome.
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