28 Mar 2022 | Amateur golf |
#AusAm takes centre stage
by Dane Heverin
The 2022 Australian Amateur begins on Tuesday at Cranbourne Golf Club in Melbourne’s south-east and the nation’s pinnacle amateur tournament is ready to grab hold of Australian golf’s spotlight.
The tournament which dates back to 1894 will be contested over 72-holes of stroke play, with a cut after 36 holes, following last year’s adoption of that format, while Cranbourne will play host for the first time.
Five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson once described Sam Berriman’s Cranbourne design as “a classic with this great course being worthy of any major tournament” so it is sure to test the strong field vying for the title.
Two new champions will be crowned on Friday afternoon as last year’s winners - Louis Dobbelaar and Grace Kim - are now professionals and the winners will join the likes of PGA Tour stars Cameron Smith and Cameron Davis, as well as world number three Lydia Ko and world number four Minjee Lee as Australian Amateur champions.
Among the favourites to join that elite winners list are a host of rising stars who have already grabbed headlines this season.
NSW Open champion Harrison Crowe has been dominant in recent months with triumphs at the Victorian Amateur, the Australian Master of the Amateurs and NSW Amateur prior to beating the professionals at Concord.
Despite his recent success, the Golf Australia Men’s Order of Merit leader is simply focusing on bringing his renowned match play ferociousness to stroke play.
“The real challenge for me is taking the mindset I have for match play into stroke play. That’s been the biggest grind for me in the last six to twelve months of keeping that mindset from match play and transferring it over to stroke play,” Crowe said.
“Match play I’m super aggressive. I don’t let up at times so I’m trying to maintain that same mentality. But there’s always been a question mark over my stroke play ability at times so getting that done at the NSW Open gives me immense confidence to go out there, be free and take out the Aussie Am title.”
He will face stiff competition from reigning Order of Merit champion Jack Buchanan, while Riversdale Cup winner Max Ford and South Australian Amateur Classic champion Connor McKinney have tasted success in recent weeks.
Chris Fan, Buchanan, Jye Pickin and Toby Walker round out the top-five in the Order of Merit standings and they will all be ones to watch.
The women’s Order of Merit leader Caitlin Peirce has proven that she knows how to win and is among the favourites.
Peirce prevailed at her home club, Royal Adelaide, in the Rene Erichsen Salver last week to add to her Tasmanian Amateur Championship and Tasmanian Open Championship title already this season and now she has her sights set on the national title.
“I’m in the best form that I could be for it,” Peirce said.
“I’m definitely playing the best I’ve ever played at the moment and it’s nice having a few wins come together. It’s new territory really.
“I’ve played the course before so I know how to shoot a good score around there. I think it should be pretty good.”
Belinda Ji, Kelsey Bennett, Jeneath Wong and Keeley Marx occupy the other top-five spots in the Order of Merit and they will all be gunning for the crown.
The four of whom have taken it up to the professionals in the Webex Players Series this summer, and they are looking to stamp their authority as the top amateur golfer in the country.
For Ji and Marx in particular, a national title would also be a maiden victory, while Bennett and Wong are looking to add to their already extensive resumes.
Be sure to check golf.org.au for all the latest news from the Australian Amateur.
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