20 Mar 2023 | Amateur golf |
Order of Merit race heats up in SA
by Dane Heverin
The South Australian Amateur Classic & Rene Erichsen Salver begin on Tuesday at Royal Adelaide Golf Club with several players in line to make a significant move in the Golf Australia Order of Merit for standings.
Caitlin Peirce will be looking to make the most of home course advantage to place pressure on the absent leaders of the women’s race, while three of the top four in the men’s rankings – Joseph Owen (first), Jeffrey Guan (second) and Samuel Slater (fourth) - are all in action in the 72-hole event.
West Australian Owen is on top courtesy of his five top ten finishes so far this season including his triumph at the Vic Amateur in December, but Guan is only 84 points behind, and Slater is just a further 25 points back with 242 points awarded to this week’s champion.
Two-time Australian Junior champion Guan has played the least number of events in the trio but benefitted majorly from his Avondale Amateur victory and top five finish at the Australian Amateur in January.
Queensland’s Slater on the other hand is yet to lift a trophy this season but is in fine form with a pair of runner-up finishes at his two most starts – the Concord Cup and the Riversdale Cup.
The leading trio will face fierce competition from a strong field however, with two-time Order of Merit winner and Adelaide local Jack Buchanan among the favourites.
The Glenelg member impressed by taking out lead amateur honours at the Vic Open last month and triumphed in his home state at amateur level last year.
International presence has been a welcome return to tournaments this summer and this week is no exception with four Japanese male players striking imposing figures.
Taishi Moto came runner-up at this year’s Australian Amateur, Riura Mastui and Minato Oshima are the two most recent Japanese Junior champions, while Sota Furukawa won in his last start in a World Amateur Golf Ranking event.
In the women’s, Peirce is fresh off a top 15 finish at the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific in Singapore, sits seventh in the Order of Merit and is the top-ranked Australian in the field.
She is also the defending champion having bettered 2022 Australian Amateur champion Fiona Xu of New Zealand by six shots in front of her adoring fellow Royal Adelaide member, but the mantle of best-ranked player in the field belongs to world No. 79 Ayaka Tezuka of Japan.
Tezuka has already appeared twice on Australian shores this season – when she registered a top 10 at the Australian Master of the Amateurs and a top 25 at the Australian Amateur in January – and she is joined by countrywoman Fuka Suga in the field.
The Japanese pair boast the best handicaps of any player in the tournament with Suga at +6.8 and Tezuka +6.6.
The only other internationals on the tee sheet this week are Samoan brother-sister pairing Lio Vui and Faith Vui.
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