Date: September 06, 2007

Aussie Amateur international summary

Tim Stewart&aposs charge to the British Amateur final was one of the many Aussie highlights The majority of the national squad members have spent the past eight to 10 weeks competing in the UK and/or USA with some notable results. The experience gained will help them prepare and compete in future domestic and international competitions. For the men, one of the most significant results was Tim Stewart finishing runner-up in the British Amateur. The last Australian man to win the British Amateur was Doug Bachli in 1954, so it would have been a tremendously significant achievement for Tim to have won. A week earlier, Scott Arnold finished in 2nd place at the St Andrews Links Trophy after finishing at 12-under. This was against a class field of international players on a globally renowned course. At the Sunnehanna event, Ray Beaufils had his best finish for the trip with a 14th place and a score of four-over. The Dogwood Invitational was the first of two consecutive events where Josh Younger found excellent form. At the Dogwood he was fourth with a score of four-over. The following week he played the Rice Planters Championship. At the Rice Planters tournament Michael Foster defeated Younger after both players finished 12-under in what was an Australian-dominated finish. Matt Griffin finished in third place at 11-under and Rudi Bezuidenhout was fifth at 10-under. With Richie Gallichan, nine-under and Rohan Blizard, eight-under, there were six Australians in the top 10. This event was clearly the best in terms of the number of great Aussie performances. At the famed Pinehurst Country Club in North Carolina, Aaron Pike was the lone squad member at the North & South tournament. He performed very well, finishing fifth in the stroke play section of the tournament and making the semi-finals of the match play. The next week was the Players Amateur which is a favourite among the players in terms of the course, the organisation and the creature comforts offered to players. Rohan Blizard finished fourth at 17-under and Tim Stewart, eighth at 12-under in what was another low-scoring event. Rudi Bezuidenhout finished strongly in the Southern Amateur in North Carolina. Rudi&aposs rounds of 67 69 70 68 (-9) saw him finish in sixth place. Richie Gallichan also competed in the event and finished equal-11th at seven-under with rounds of 71 69 70 and 71. The Eastern Amateur was won by Bill Rankin from Cedar Rapids, Missouri with phenomenal scores of 70 65 63 67 (265). Matt Griffin was the best-placed Australian in equal 10th with scores of 69 65 71 69 (274). Other Australians in the field were Tom Prowse and Justin Roach, both 278; Scott Arnold and Michael Raseta, both 280; Brent Watson, 282; Jeremy Cross, 295. The Porter Cup was won by Bryan Harmon in tournament-record style. Harmon&aposs scores of 64 63 66 and 65 (-22) left the field in his wake. Andrew Dodt was the leading Aussie with scores of 69 69 70 66 (-6). His six-under total left him tied for ninth. What was a fairly quiet trip for Rick Kulacz changed in his final two weeks in the US. He won the Scratch Players Championship and qualified for the US Amateur, as did Jamie Arnold. Some of the girls from the national squad also competed overseas in both the US and UK. They began with the St Rule Trophy at St Andrews. Kate Combes (who performed very well overseas last year) began her 2007 tour very well by finishing equal second with scores of 77 69 71 for a total of 217 (-10). This finish included a seven-under 69 around the Old Course. Beginning the first of a few smaller tournaments, Emma Bennett won the Astor Salver in England, scoring 1 under for 36 holes. Claire Choi was next-best Aussie in third place at one-over. The Pleasington Putter was the girls&apos next event. It was won by Stacey Keating with a total of one-under, Emma Bennett came second with one-over, Clare Choi came third with two-over and Kate Combes came around sixth with six-over. Kate also had a hole-in-one on the 16th hole during the event. After the Pleasington Putter the girls caught the train down to Birmingham where they played the Bridget Jackson Bowl. Emma Bennett won in a sudden-death play off after finishing three-under for two rounds. Clare Choi came third, Stacey Keating fifth and Kate Combes eighth. The girls then went to Ireland where Stacey Keating won the Irish Stroke Play at Cladeboye Golf Club. Stacey&aposs scores of 80 72 and 73 gave her a total of three-over par. She finished one shot ahead of Australian National Squad member Bree Arthur and three other players. Bree&aposs second-place finish showed she is a player to watch for the future. The Irish Stroke Play was the last of the events the girls played in the UK before some of them went to the US. The first US event was the Women&aposs Trans National, played in Kentucky. Kristie Smith played excellent golf to qualify in second place in the stroke play qualifying rounds; Emma Bennett qualified fourth, Clare Choi 12th and Kate Combes 19th. Unfortunately Clare and Kate lost in the first round and Kristie and Emma were defeated in the round of 32 (second round) of match play. At the Women&aposs North & South tournament at Pinehurst, North Carolina the best of the Australians was Alison Whitaker who is studying in the US at Duke University with scores of 74 70 (-1) in fourth place. Kristie Smith 75 70 (E) in fifth place; Emma Bennett 75 71 (+1) was eighth; Kate Combes 74 74 (+3) was 13th and Clare Choi 75 75 (+5) in 20th. The top 64 players qualified for the match play section of the tournament, so all of the Australian girls were successul. Kate Combes, Clare Choi and Kristie Smith were all beaten in the first round. Emma Bennett won her first two matches and was ultimately eliminated in the quarter-final. Emma Bennett won the Colorado Stroke Play Championship with scores of 73 71 70 for a total of two-under. Her one-stroke win made for an exciting finish to the final tournament of her current overseas trip. Clare Choi finished third at seven-over and Kate Combes finished 5th at 11-over. Kristie Smith was the lone Australian qualifier at the US Women&aposs Amateur which was played at Crooked Stick, Indiana. Kristie successfully made the top 64 to qualify for the match play section of the event but was beaten 3&2 in the first round of match play. Qualifying for this event is an achievement in itself as there are very few places at qualifying courses so the score required to qualify just to get into the tournament needs to be low. With the men&aposs Interstate Teams Matches in September there seems little competitive break for the men. The girls have the opportunity of taking a breather, reviewing the lessons learned from their overseas experiences and then getting back into competition later in the year. The quality and depth of the competitive fields overseas provide the best of experiences for both male and female players. The above summary highlights the quality of players we have in Australia.