Date: April 12, 2007
Author: Alistair Hogg

Aussie assault on NZ Amateur Championships

By Alistair Hogg A 17-strong field of Australians has arrived across the Tasman to vie for the New Zealand Amateur Championships beginning on Sunday in Hamilton. Led by Australian Amateur Champion Rohan Blizard, the Aussie contingent will be looking to clean out the trophy cabinets of their Trans Tasman rivals. Blizard returns to New Zealand having performed superbly in the SBS Invitational last month, scooping the title of &aposTop Individual&apos in the process. Fellow Australian National Squad members Jamie Arnold and Michael Foster were also part of the team that completed the record-breaking win at Invercargill and the trio will be searching for similar success next week. Beginning Sunday, players will contest the 36-hole National Foursomes at the St. Andrew&aposs Course, Hamilton, just south of Auckland. The 72-hole stroke play will then commence on Monday 16 April and the top-32 finishers will qualify for the match play beginning on Friday, culminating in a 36-hole final on Sunday 22 April. Andrew Green of Wellington is the defending champion after his surprise victory in 2006. His path to the title included a semi-final victory over then Australian Amateur Champion Tim Stewart. The New South Welshman is among the Australian contingent currently in New Zealand and will be hoping to rediscover his form that saw him win last year&aposs Australian Amateur and claim the Riversdale Cup earlier this year. Australian Amateur Stroke Play Champion Andrew Dodt will also contest the championships, as will 2007 Australian Amateur Runner-Up, Justin Roach. Prior to Green&aposs triumph last year, an Australian had won the New Zealand Amateur on four consecutive occasions. Hoping to buck the trend will be Kiwi contenders James Gill, Danny Lee, Troy Ropiha and Andrew Searle who convincingly beat the Australian men at the Trans Tasman Cup at Royal Canberra in February. New Plymouth&aposs Rophia was the best performing Kiwi at the Australian Amateur Championships, making the second round of the match play before bowing out 6/5 to eventual champion, Blizard.