Six elite amateurs have confirmed the growing force of youth in Australian golf by taking all but two of the eight places available through qualifying for the Emirates Australian Open starting on Thursday.
Queensland’s 18-year-old Louis Dobbelaar birdied the last two holes to lead all comers at Carnarvon Golf Club with his 65.
Other amateurs to make the 144-man field at The Australian this week included another Queenslander, Justin Morley, Harrison Crowe (NSW), Western Australia’s Hayden Hopewell, South Australia’s Jack Thompson and Sydney player William Bayliss (NSW).
They will be joined by professionals Anthony Choat, from Massey Park Golf Club in Sydney’s west, and Michel Smyth, a teaching pro also from Sydney.
Dobbelaar’s performance at Carnarvon was a stand-out. The relatively recent New Zealand and Queensland amateur champion, 18, was even-par through seven holes before catching fire, ultimately shooting seven-under at Carnarvon. “My whole game was solid and I holed a couple of putts when I needed to which was the main thing. I felt good all day,’’ he said later.
The Queenslander, who is part of Cameron Smith's scholarship squad and shares the same coach, has never played an Australian Open before. “It feels surreal, yes,” he said. “It’ll be an awesome week. There’s some really good names out there so it’ll be great to be amongst them. I remember watching it (the Open) as a kid. To be playing it is pretty special.”
Dobbelaar said he would keep his expectations in check. “It’s no different mentally to any other week,’’ he said. “It’s obviously a bigger process but I just got in. Obviously if you make the cut would be awesome. Just aim for that and anything more or less is what it is.”
Choat (68) and Sydney’s Harrison Crowe (68) were the two other qualifiers from Carnarvon.
WA gun Hopewell (pictured above) shot a 65 at Glenmore to lead qualifying at that club, joining Jack Thompson from The Grange in Adelaide and Smyth in the Open field. Hopewell was runner-up in this year’s WA Open.
At Ryde-Parramatta today, Justin Morley, a Queenslander who now plays out of Federal Golf Club in the ACT, and William Bayliss from Sydney club Avondale, both played their way into the field with 71s.