Date: April 19, 2008

Seeds tumble in wild day at Srixon Australian Amateur

The opening two rounds of match play at the 2008 Srixon Australian Amateur Championships threw up some surprises that saw the elimination of the men&aposs defending champion, the world&aposs number one ranked player and a close call for local favourite Stephanie Na who dug deep to overcome a spirited challenge from Julia Boland. The wild and unpredictable nature of match play golf was well and truly on show at Royal Adelaide. Matthew Griffin turned on one the best performances of his young career to beat defending champion Rohan Blizard 5/3. The in-form Victorian kept his AIS/Golf Australia National Squad team mate honest throughout the front nine before pulling away in the closing stages. Griffin received a scare from Fernando Aunzo in his morning first round encounter but prevailed 1up to set up the mouth-watering clash against Blizard who had earlier defeated New Zealander Kevin Smith 2/1. Another Kiwi stamped himself on the competition by first toppling a former champion, then sending the world number one and stroke play winner packing. Danny Lee raced out to an early 3up lead against Tim Stewart and never looked like surrendering to the big-hitting Aussie. The next task at hand wasn&apost any easier as he squared off against R&A ranked world number one Daniel Willett, who only yesterday claimed the Srixon Australian Stroke Play title. Like he did in the morning, Lee got off to a superb start before the Englishman pegged him back. Willett held the lead after the turn before birdies on 14 and 17 from the Kiwi gave him the edge. After a miscue on 17, Willett was forced to hole a chip to keep the match alive but it wasn&apost to be for the current Spanish Amateur Champion. But perhaps the most engrossing match was saved until last. After battling tooth and nail all afternoon, Stephanie Na and Julia Boland were still locked together as the clock neared 6:00pm and shadows started to creep across the sprawling Adelaide layout. The local favourite led comfortably for the first half of the match before Boland appeared to flick a switch suddenly burst into life. A birdie blitz after the turn saw the pair draw level before the Ladies Riversdale Cup champion edged in front with a spectacular eagle on the 17th hole. Na wasn&apost going to go down without a fight and what the pint-sized stroke play champion lacks in height, she more than makes up for in spirit and determination. A birdie on the last took the match to extra holes where the pair went stroke for stroke until Boland was unable to make par on the 20th hole, handing a thrilling win to Na. It was a cruel and heartbreaking end for Boland who was six-under on the second nine, but that&aposs part and parcel of the mysterious beast that is match play golf. If she can continue to perform at the level she has so demonstrated this year, there is little doubt there will be good things to come for the young Sydneysider. Meanwhile, New Zealander Nick Gillespie will certainly sleep well after outlasting New South Welshman Grant Scott in a monumental 25-hole tussle. That in itself is enough to knock the stuffing out of any young golfer, notwithstanding his 20-hole effort earlier in the day against Swede Pontus Widegren! After 45 holes today, Gillespie faces Englishman Dale Whitnell in Saturday&aposs quarter-final and will certainly be hoping to finish the job a little earlier. Other quarter-final matches include Michael Foster taking on fellow West-Australian Shaun Malone, Neil Chaudhuri against Norwegian Anders Kristiansen and of course Matthew Griffin against Oceania&aposs top-ranked player, Danny Lee. All matches will be scored LIVE at Click here for a full scoring summary.