A star-studded field of 144 players, 105 men and 39 women will compete for South Australia’s premier Amateur Golf Championships, the SA Men’s Amateur Classic and Women’s Rene Erichsen Salver.
The Championships held concurrently from Monday 18 to Thursday 21 March will be played at the majestic Royal Adelaide Golf Club, host of the 2020 ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open.
The 72-hole Championship, 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 105 players features five of the top 100 ranked players in the Men’s World Amateur golf rankings.
The quality of the field is further highlighted by a record 102 players currently holding a GA handicap of scratch or better, with US College based Victorian Karl Vilips the lowest marker off +4.7.
Such was the demand for spots, 31 entrants were balloted from the championship.
A total of 23 local South Australian players will battle against 75 interstate visitors, with 21 players from New South Wales, 18 Victoria, 21 Queensland, 9 Western Australia, 2 Tasmania, 3 ACT and 1 NT.
This year’s field will once again have an international flavor with five high quality players from the Japan Golf Association competing, along with players from Korea and Singapore.
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) and the past two winners have quickly become household names as rookie professionals.
2017 champion, Victorian Zach Murray has rocketed up the world rankings to move to 320 after winning the 2019 New Zealand Open and Min Woo Lee, now ranked 288 in the world was named European Tour player of the month for February. If history repeats itself the winner of this years Classic will be a serious player.
17-year old Vilips the current Rolex Boys World Number 1 Amateur will make a rare Australian appearance. Based in the US on scholarships since aged 11, Vilips won the 2018 Youth Olympics Gold Medal in Buenos Aires and is the one to watch in Adelaide.
Top challengers to Vilips will be Japanese star Keita Nakajima ranked 25 in the world. Nakajima, runner up at both the 2019 Australian Master of the Amateurs and 2018 Asia Pacific Amateur, won the 2018 Asian Games and placed fifth at the 2018 Men’s Australian Open.
Japan’s Yuta Sugiura ranked 847 is another to watch as 2018 Japan Junior Champion.
New South Welshman Blake Windred ranked 12th in the world should be right in the mix after recent results, which included a win at Avondale and 12th place finish at the ISPS HANDA Victorian Open.
Victorian Kyle Michel who finished 8-under last year and runner up to Lee enjoys the Royal Adelaide layout and will be a strong contender. His second round 65 was the low round of the tournament last year.
Local hopes will rest with 2018 SA Vardon Trophy winner Jack Thompson from The Grange. Thompson the 2018 Riversdale Cup champion has gained valuable experience in recent months gaining starts at the Australian and Vic Opens.
Thompson finished tied 16th in Adelaide last year at 5-over and knows a score of around 10-under will be needed to claim the Classic.
Others to watch are Queenslander Jediah Morgan (T4 in 2018), New South Welshman Nathan Barbieri and 2017 Australian Amateur champion, Victorian, Matias Sanchez.
Back at Royal Adelaide for a fifth 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.
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 2019 Rene Erichsen Salver boasts a classy line-up, with five of the top 200 ranked players in the Women’s World Amateur golf rankings competing.
Of the 39 starters, 28 players in the field hold handicaps of scratch or better with Sae Ogura from Japan the lowest marker off +6.7.
There are six South Australian’s doing battle against 24 interstaters, three Koreans, one player from Singapore and four players from Team Japan.
The Japanese contingent lead by Coach Gareth Jones from Adelaide will be hard to beat. Last year five players from Team Japan finished in the top seven and once again all are capable of victory.
Yuna Nishimura ranked 47 in the amateur world rankings is a serious player and after a fourth-place finish at Royal last year, the 18-year-old completed a fine three shot victory at Riversdale. “I’m really happy, it was a good weekend.’’ Nishimura told Golf Australia last week.
Compatriot Riri Sadoyama who finished third at the Australian Amateur in January and ninth at Riversdale is another player poised to do well.
One player the Japanese will have to overcome is 20-year-old Rebecca Kay who is in hot form after claiming the Tasmanian Open and finishing runner up at last week’s Riversdale Cup in Melbourne.
The Queenslander has a great affinity with Royal Adelaide winning on the layout twice in 2017, 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.
Last year Kay was superb over the four rounds finishing 8-under firing scores of 71, 73, 69, 71 to go back to back and claim yet another title at Royal Adelaide.
“I love Royal Adelaide. It’s awesome, it’s probably one of my favorite courses in Australia and I seem to play well on it too….let’s do a three-peat”. Kay laughed after her 2018 victory.
Doey Choi and Stephanie Kyriacou who were Australian representatives at the Queen Sirikit Cup at Glenelg last week will be strong challengers.
After placing fourth at the ALPG’s Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville at the end of February, Choi who is the reigning SA Amateur Champion finished sixth individually at Glenelg mixing it with the best Amateurs in the Asia Pacific region.
Australian number one Grace Kim of Sydney’s Avondale Golf Club finished 2018 with a bang, winning both the Federal Open Amateur and Dunes Medal.
Over the past month Kim has gained invaluable experience playing a string of professional events including the Vic Open, Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville, Canberra Classic and NSW Open and will be super keen to chalk up another amateur victory.
Strong competition should come from Victorian Kono Matsumoto and Australian Girls’ Champion Maddison Hinson-Tolchard who was rewarded with starts in both the ISPS HANDA Vic Open and Women’s Australian Open this February.
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 3 Minjee Lee in 2013.
The SA Amateur Classic and Rene Erichsen Salver will be played from Monday 18th to Thursday 21st March at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club.
Play commences from 8am Monday and Tuesday with a cut after 36 holes. The leading 54 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.