15 Jan 2024 | Amateur golf |
#AusAm: Campbell on familiar territory
by Martin Blake
Phoenix Campbell may well be the nominal favourite for the men’s adidas Australian Amateur on form, but for this week, he has vowed to stay in the moment rather than look ahead.
Victorian Campbell will be playing on his home course at Yarra Yarra in the Melbourne sandbelt, and he is coming off a victory at the Australian Master of the Amateurs last weekend not so long after his maiden win in a professional tournament, the Queensland PGA at Nudgee last November.
The 22-year-old will likely have plenty of club members following his every move this week when the amateur begins at Yarra Yarra and nearby Keysborough Golf Club in the famous sandbelt at 7.30am on Tuesday.
“I’m positive heading into this week,” he said. “Expectations aside, the only ones that matter are the ones that I put on myself. That’s what I can control. It’s my home club so I’m comfortable here. I’m playing well so I need to stick to my game and play the course that I know.”
Campbell shot a course record 63 at Yarra in the Sandbelt Invitational in December and is one of the top Australian hopes in the men’s draw along with the likes of Queenslander Quinn Croker, Asia-Pacific champion Jasper Stubbs, and another Yarra player, Max Moring.
But it is a hot field with a bunch of well-credentialed international players including Kiwi Jayden Ford, so it won’t come easily.
“The form’s good,” said Campbell. “I’ve had a few good wins and it’s trending in the right direction.
“It’s a mixture of a few things. It’s a lot to do with mindset. Over the last few months I’ve gained a lot of belief in my game, and that’s taken me to the next step. I kind of believe that I belong. That’s probably the biggest factor.”
Campbell has three professional starts coming up soon – the Webex Players Series events at Rosebud and in the Hunter Valley, and the Vic Open at 13th Beach.
He plans on travelling to Europe and the United States this year for big amateur events before turning pro – he has automatic playing status from whenever he nominates on the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia as a result of his win in the Queensland PGA at Nudgee late last year.
“I have another eight months of development as an amateur with some of the professional events as well. I’m not in a rush to turn pro,” he said. “But come the start of the Aussie Tour season next year I’ll look to make the change.”
A field of 312 players will take to the two courses on Tuesday morning to play for championships which date all the way back to 1894.
Queenslander Justice Bosio, runner-up the last two years, and South Australia’s Caitlin Peirce are the best-credentialled Australian women.
“It’s always nice to win at home and who knows? This could be my last Aussie Amateur, so it would be great to get it done,” said Bosio, a Karrie Webb Scholarship-holder from Caboolture.
Remarkably, two 11-year-olds – Commonwealth’s Fuyu Yang and Sanctuary Cove’s Alicia Ludi – have qualified having achieved the mandatory 3.5 women’s handicap or better.
Stiff northerly winds are forecast for Tuesday which will likely make the courses play with more teeth, followed by storm activity and stronger southerly winds on Wednesday.
The two courses are in magnificent condition after recent sunshine to follow good rains the previous week in Melbourne. At Yarra Yarra, the greens are already running at around 12 on the stimpmeter.
Campbell knows it better than anyone here.
“You have to stay patient,” he said. “The greens are lethal sometimes. They’re quick and they have those slopes, so you have to say patient, roll some putts in and see how it goes.”
Golf Australia General Manager of Events and Operations, Therese Magdulski, said the clubs had stepped up and presented superbly for this week’s championship.
“These courses are going to test the players and provide a significant challenge for them at this year’s amateur,” she said.
“Yarra Yarra has hosted the amateur as recently as 2017 and its reputation is well known, and Keysborough as a club is really excited to host the amateur for the first time. We couldn’t be happier to be here in the sandbelt with its reputation for being up with the best in the world.”
Entry is free at both courses and there is parking on-site.
72 holes for men and women, strokeplay. Two courses on days one and two, Yarra Yarra for days three and four. There are 312 players; 212 men and 100 women. There are more than 80 internationals and two 11-year-olds in the women’s field.
Yarra Yarra Golf Club is a sandbelt classic celebrating its 125th anniversary, and was most recently ranked No. 16 in Australia by Golf Australia magazine’s ratings panel. It will play at par 70 for men, with both No. 16 and No. 18 holes at par-4. It will be par 73 for women, with Nos. 16 and 18 playing at par-5, as well as No. 13 at par-5.
Yarra last hosted the amateur in 2017 and since then has undergone a major restoration.
Keysborough Golf Club is another sandbelt-style course 20 minutes from Yarra, and is hosting the adidas Australian Amateur for the first time. It will play to par-72 for men and par-73 for women. Keysborough dates to 1898.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Phoenix Campbell: Won the Master of the Amateurs last week and the Queensland PGA. Also a Yarra member.
Jasper Stubbs: Winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur last year and the NZ Amateur in 2022.
Justice Bosio: Karrie Webb Scholarship holder who was runner-up the past two years.
Jayden Ford (NZ): Winner of the 2022 Avondale Amateur and now in the US college system.
Kipp Popert (Eng): The 2022 Australian All Abilities Champion.
Saori Iijima (Japan): Ranked just outside the top 30 in the world and carries a handicap of +8.
Quinn Croker: Australian representative who finished tied-second in the Heritage Classic on the Challenger PGA Tour on Sunday.
Mizuki Hashimoto (Japan): The defending women’s champion from 2023.
Sarah Hammett: Queensland 17-year-old who is a prolific winner and course record holder at Yarra.
Jazy Roberts: Victorian who was prominent at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open and the top amateur at the Sandbelt Invitational.
Play begins at 7.30am Tuesday and will continue until Friday. https://www.golf.org.au/events#/competition/4132274/teetimes
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