Date: March 27, 2007
Author: Alistair Hogg

Leighding the way

By Alistair Hogg at NSWGC Victorian Leigh Deagan has pulled off a stunning upset by eliminating stroke play champion Andrew Dodt from the Australian Amateur Championships at New South Wales Golf Club. The plucky 22-year old has gone the distance this week, making the match play field in a playoff yesterday and then toppling the number one seed in the opening round after sinking a monster on the 19th. The duo was square for most of the round until Dodt went ahead by one on the back nine. But Deagan wasn&apost about to lie down and capitalised upon Dodt&aposs bogey on 17 to square the match. The pair had pars on 18, but it was Dodt who had to drain a clutch 12-footer to stay alive. Deagan was applying the pressure and the Queenslander was answering. But Dodt had no answer for his counterpart on the first playoff hole when Deagan sank a 35-foot uphill putt to win the match and send him through to the quarter-finals. It was a disappointing way for Dodt to exit the championships but full credit should be paid to Deagan who was tenacious, unrelenting and displayed the stamina required to overhaul one of Australia&aposs brightest young stars. The Victorian will face Daniel Nisbet in the quarter-finals who beat fellow Queenslander Ray Beaufils. The other first round shock was the departure of Rick Kulacz. The 21-year old West Australian looked the goods leading by three through the turn but was reeled in by Justin Roach who squared the match with one hole to play. The pair halved the 18th before Kulacz missed a five metre putt on the 19th to open the door for his opponent. Roach made no mistake and proceeded to eliminate one of the tournament favourites. The world number one amateur was another victim of a topsy turvy opening day. England&aposs Jamie Moul played Lloyd Saltman who is having a blinding week. The Scot finished third in the Australian Amateur Stroke Play and is showing signs of progressing deep into the match play draw. His next opponent will be Kulacz&aposs conqueror, Roach. National Squad and New South Wales Golf Club member Rohan Blizard had the most convincing win of the day, trouncing Kiwi Troy Rophia 6/5. The “Ice Man” as he is affectionaly known by his team mates showed no mercy as he worked his way around the course he knows so well. Local knowledge and ability to play the testing coastal conditions may yet prove pivotal to winning this prestigious event. Having already accounted for a National Squad team mate in the opening round, Blizard will face another, Rudi Bezuidenhuot in Wednesday&aposs quarter-final. The 21-year old made tough work of his second round clash against Jordan Sherratt, clawing his way back from two down late in the match to win 1up. Bezuidenhuot did it the hard way though, sailing his penultimate putt six-feet past the hole. The New South Welshman paused, regrouped and sunk the follow-up to claim the match and a quarter-final berth. There were further surprises in the women&aposs draw with top seed Sarah Oh falling to Rebecca Flood of New South Wales. Oh entered the championships tied for first in the weekend&aposs Terrey Hills qualifier but was unable to prevent Flood from claiming victory on the 19th hole. Oh&aposs National Squad team mate, Frances Bondad was another favourite to fall. Bondad was ousted by Sunny Park who will go on to meet Flood in the quarter-finals. Stephanie Na staged a stirring comeback to defeat Victorian Grace Lennon on the 20th hole while Emma Bennett had a convincing 3/2 win over Rochelle Miles and has certainly demonstrated the potential to go all the way. Click here to view the men&aposs Australian Amateur Championship bracket Click here to win the women&aposs Australian Amateur Championship bracket