Date: August 07, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Aussies bat deep at #USAm

Australia’s history at the US Amateur is both long and storied.

But it has never been as deep as 2017.

Victorian Walter Travis, who became a citizen of the United States before the turn of the 20th century, was the first three-time winner of the event. His 1900, 1901 and 1903 victories have him alongside Tiger Woods with that honour.

More recently, New South Welshman Nick Flanagan broke a century-long drought in 2003 at Oakmont when he outduelled Casey Wittenberg in a final that went to the 37th hole.

And in Curtis Luck, Australia can boast the reigning champ after the West Australian’s record run last year helped propel him to the top of the world amateur rankings.

But none of them ever had the green and golf support cast that will soon set up shop in California.

No fewer than 10 Australian men will play – with two more currently as alternates – at the famous Riviera Country Club and Bel Air Country Club in Los Angeles from 14-20 August.

It’s a number believed to be a record – and by some margin.

And one, says Golf Australia high performance director Brad James, of which all Aussie golf fans should be proud.

“It’s a feather in the cap of all state programs and their ability to produce world-class amateur athletes,” James said.

“It’s hard to get too many automatically exempt through the world amateur rankings given our geography, so for all our athletes who stood up in the various qualifiers, it’s something they should be pretty pumped about.

“It’s the pinnacle of amateur golf and an event that’s now on everybody’s radar as you can tell by the variety of countries who have a representative.

“And, courtesy of Curtis (last year) and Ollie (Goss, runner-up in 2013), I think a lot more people at home have an appreciation of not only the effort it takes to get there and win it, but also of the benefits it can have for your career.”

Exempt through their world rankings are NSW pair Harrison Endycott and Travis Smyth, as is Perth’s Min Woo Lee, also eligible via his 2016 US Junior Boys’ triumph.

Through qualifying in the past month, the numbers swelled dramatically.

Impressively, the seven Aussies who advanced all came from different venues, further highlighting the planning and adaptability required.

Young tyro Karl Vilips advanced at Dallas, Texas, days after his Southern Amateur triumph.

The red-hot Dylan Perry (North Carolina), Australian Amateur champ Matias Sanchez (Georgia) and the University of Iowa’s Ruben Sondjaja (Minnesota) all won their sectional qualifiers.

Blake Collyer (Fresno, California), Kiran Day (Seaside, California) and James Grierson (Purchase, New York) all did enough to get straight through, too.

New South Welshman Blake Windred (Rochester, New York) and Queenslander Shae Wools-Cobb (Pennsylvania) are currently alternates should some of the 312-strong field withdraw in the interim.

* Follow Golf Australia’s coverage of the event via Twitter at @GolfAust or via our website at or watch live scoring and video highlights at during the events.