Date: May 21, 2007
Author: Alistair Hogg

Four Nations Cup preview

By Alistair Hogg Some of the best amateur golfers in the world have assembled in Victoria for the 2007 Four Nations Cup commencing on Wednesday at Barwon Heads Golf Club. Players representing Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand arrived in Melbourne on the weekend and are currently preparing for the biannual tournament. The home side is a heavy favourite to win the cup for a third consecutive time. Since its inception in 1987, Australia has claimed the Four Nations a remarkable eight times. This week they will try to do it for the third time on home soil, and the first in Victoria. The Four Nations Cup has historically been a breeding ground for talented young amateurs to go on and achieve great things on the professional stage. Players such as Robert Allenby, Stephen Leaney and Aaron Baddeley have all plied their trade as amateurs at the Four Nations Cup prior to launching their careers. Australia&aposs 2007 team is one of the strongest ever and the hosts will definitely take some beating. Including both match and stroke play Amateur Champions, the Aussies are also boosted by the inclusion of Jamie Arnold, Rick Kulacz, National Squad debutant Matthew Griffin and former Australian Amateur Champion, Tim Stewart. Dodt was part of the triumphant Australian team in 2005 at Nikko Country Club, Japan along with Won Joon Lee, Andrew Tampion and Michael Sim who have since gone on to join professional ranks. Although the hosts appear to be the best chance on paper, they won&apost necessarily have it all their own way. At least if the Kiwis have anything to say about it. The New Zealanders jetted across the Tasman on the weekend keen to deliver their country&aposs first ever win at this tournament. Of the six players in the squad, four were part of the Kiwi team at February&aposs Trans Tasman Cup in Canberra. Although losing narrowly overall, the New Zealand Open Men convincingly beat Australia 8-4 in total to claim the Sloan Morpeth Trophy for the first time since 1992. Although not typically a nation renowned for its golfing prowess, Canada will look to take the challenge to its rivals. Headed by exciting up-and-comer Kris Wasylowich, the Canadians will be looking to emulate the feats of their countrymen in 2001 when they claimed the Four Nations Cup on home soil at Labton Golf and Country Club. Wasylowich had an outstanding season in 2006, claiming the Canadian Mid-Amateur Championship and the Alberta Men&aposs Amateur Championship. He will be joined by five of his countrymen including Todd Halpen who joined forced with Wasylowich to represent Canada at the Acer International tournament last year. Another nation keen to re-claim the trophy is Japan. After winning in 1997 at Ibaraki Country Club, the Japanese have not had much luck since – and with their highest ranked player, Yuta Ikeda, sitting at 306 in the world it might be another couple of years before Japan is once again in the hunt. Monday and Tuesday are practice days for all players at Barwon Heads Golf Club before Tuesday&aposs opening ceremony. The real action gets underway on Wednesday. Australia&aposs first assignment is likely to be their toughest. The hosts face New Zealand on day one with the outcome likely to seriously influence the destination of the 2007 trophy. Japan will face Canada in what is really a “must-win” clash for both sides if either want to be any chance of challenging the Pacific powerhouses this week. Australia Jamie Arnold Rohan Blizard Andrew Dodt Matthew Griffin Rick Kulacz Tim Stewart Barry Shepherd (Captain) Peter Knight (Coach) Canada Victor Ciesielski Kevin Fortin-Simard Louis-Pierre Godin Todd Halpen Andrew Ross Kris Wasylowich Henry Brunton (Captain & Coach) Japan Yoshinori Fujimoto Yuta Ikeda Daisuke Kataoka Ryutaro Nagano Kentaro Shibata Naoyuki Tamura Mr Oie (Captain) Mr Ishii (Coach) New Zealand Mark Boe James Gill Leighton James Danny Lee Troy Ropiha Andrew Searle Murray Martin (Captain) Kevin Smith (Coach)