05 Jan 2023 | Amateur golf |
#AusAm: Players to watch
by Dane Heverin
The Australian Amateur is back in its traditional January time slot with a strong cast of Australian and international amateur stars descending on New South Wales and St. Michael’s golf clubs in Sydney from January 10-13.
Here are a list of players to keep an eye out for as they vye for national glory.
Runner-up in this event at Cranbourne Golf Club last year to Connor McKinney after leading for three rounds, Buchanan will be determined to go one step better this time around. The South Australian has been an ulta consistent performer at amateur level in winning the last two Golf Australia Men’s Order of Merit titles, but is hungry for more wins after a streak of runner-ups leading up to his victory in his home state’s amateur championship last September. Buchanan plays with a lot of flair and will certainly keep those watching on entertained.
Buttress announced himself by coming runner-up at the Australian Junior Amateur at the Vines of Reynella last year and has continued to impress. The West Australian won the Golf Australia Boys’ Order of Merit title last year and he also gained valuable experience from competing in the United States and the United Kingdom. The question for Buttress will be: can he raise his game to challenge of open age level?
The Asia-Pacific Amateur champion was originally planning to have joined the professional ranks by now, but the opportunity to play at The Masters and The 151st Open courtesy of his massive win in Thailand put those plans on pause. It means Crowe now has the chance to redeem himself on the national stage. After starting the year in blistering form with wins at the Australian Master of the Amateurs, the NSW Amateurs and the NSW Open, Crowe missed the cut at Cranbourne and ended up caddying for good friend Jack Buchanan. This time around the St. Michael’s member will be eager to ensure he is in the mix come the final round.
The two-time Australian Junior Amateur champion is looking to add an Australian Amateur title to his resume. The Sydneysider had a remarkable 2022 including winning the Junior Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, competing in the Junior Presidents Cup and coming third at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. Guan is regarded as one of the most exciting talents to emerge in Australian golf in recent years and winning this event would be a fitting addition to his reputation.
West Australian Greer has a stellar record in this event with top-five finishes in the past two editions, and he is due for a breakthrough victory. The one-time Junior Presidents Cup player has consistently been in the mix in professional and amateur events on home shores across the past few years, but he is determined to ensure he gets his hands on the trophy.
The Golf Australia Women’s Order of Merit winner for 2022 came runner-up in this event at Cranbourne Golf Club last year, and is likely to be among the contenders once again. Bosio emerged from being prolific in the junior ranks to become a regular contender in open age events this year. She also showed she was able to handle the big stage coming 11th at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open in December.
The highly-regarded teenager from Queensland put her name up in lights last year with three wins in junior World Amateur Golf Ranking events and a triumph at the NSW Amateur. Her back-to-back top ten finishes during the Ladies European Tour’s New South Wales swing was how she truly announced herself however, proving that Hammett can up her game when the spotlight is on her.
Another highly-regarded teenager will be one to watch out for. The 14-year-old Victorian qualified for the ISPS HANDA Australian Open via Monday qualifying and proceeded to make the first cut. She was also part of the victorious Victorian team at the Australian Interstate Teams Matches last year where she won a crucial match in the final against South Australia.
The Karrie Webb scholarship recipient will be pushing for a title on the national stage after yet another impressive year. The South Australian earned the chance to spend a week with Webb at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship last June off the back of a breakout season, and she took further steps forward with solid results overseas and a win at her home state’s amateur championship.
The West Australian won the English Women’s Amateur Championship in 2022 to show that she is a force to be reckoned with. She also chalked up two wins on Australian shores last summer, as well as a runner-up finish in the Victorian Amateur and the Welsh Ladies Open Stroke Play Championship.
John Gough (ENG)
Englishman Gough is the top-ranked men’s player in the field at number 20 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. Gough won twice in 2022 and also made the semifinals of the R&A’s Amateur Championship. In 2021, he won his home country’s amateur championship and has consistently represented England in international competition. This will be his first time competing in Australia however.
Kazuma Kobori (NZ)
New Zealander Kobori is a regular on Australian shores and has been a dominant force across the Tasman as the country’s top ranked male amateur. He is ranked 81st in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, has chalked up six career victories and impressed in international competition last year.
Robert Moran (IRE)
Irishman Moran sits just outside the world top-100 at 101st in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and registered five top-five finishes last year including a third place finish in the St Andrews Links Trophy won by Connor McKinney. Ireland are sending a strong group of players to our shores and Moran will lead their charge buoyed by a wealth of experience representing the Emerald Isle in global and European competition.
Kipp Popert (ENG)
The Australian All Abilities champion dominated at Victoria Golf Club in December to win by seven shots and now he will vye for a historic double as the first person to win the Australian Amateur and the national All Abilities championship. Popert is the World No.1 for golfers with disability and fired home a final round 69 to win the national title. The Englishman will also compete in the Australian Master of the Amateurs.
Masato Sumiuchi (JAP)
A strong Japanese contingent is heading to Australia for this event and Sumiuchi is likely to be among the contenders to take out the title. Ranked No. 94 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Sumiuchi came fifth at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship despite still being a junior. He claimed a junior win in Japan last year, as well as runner-up finishes in a junior and an open age event.
Yuna Araki (JAP)
Japan boasts a very strong group of women coming to Sydney for a shot at the Australian Amateur and Araki is one such player who will have a strong chance of lifting the trophy. Araki is ranked 11th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and is the Japanese junior champion. She also came third at the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific last year.
Mizuki Hashimoto (JAP)
Hashimoto is another member of the imposing Japanese contingent and she is ranked 18th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. Winner of the Queen Sirikit Cup last year and the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific in 2021, Hashimoto is a proven performer in international competition and has every chance of adding an Australian Amateur trophy to her collection.
Baba Saki (JAP)
The top-ranked player in the field at number three in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Saki starts the tournament as favourite. The US Women’s Amateur champion also won at junior level in Japan last year and has since been competing in professional events in her home country. To add to her remarkable record, she also came fourth at World Amateur Team Championship - Espirito Santo Trophy and sixth at the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific.
Mamika Shinchi (JAP)
Shinchi is another highly-credentialed Japanese player in the field as she is ranked 24th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. Shinchi came top-ten at the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific last year and also performed strongly across junior, open age and professional events in Japan.
Fiona Xu (NZ)
The defending champion from New Zealand returns for a shot at back-to-back titles. Xu was dominant in going wire-to-wire at Cranbourne Golf Club last year and she sits 35th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings after showcasing her class around the world. Xu made the quarter-finals at the US Girls’ Junior Championship last year and then took a big step forward in her career with a tenth place finish at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open in December.
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