2014 Master of the Amateurs gets underway

The Australian Master of the Amateurs represents our biggest amateur event of the season.

The tournament is a category ‘A’ official World Amateur Golf Ranking Counting Event and is currently 16th on the R&A World Rankings. It is also our highest ranked amateur event – sitting twelve places above its nearest rival, the Australian Amateur – ranked in category ‘B’.

Viraat Badhwar 2013 Master of the Amateurs winner – Viraat Badhwar (Credit: Anthony Powter)

The championship gets underway at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club kicks off today with the Am-Pro and then the tournament proper tomorrow with 26 Australian and 28 internationals competing in a field that includes four of the world’s top-20 players.

American Brandon Hagy, a member of the victorious US Walker Cup team, spearheads the internationals and has returned to Royal Melbourne in an elite 54 player field that will complete four rounds of stroke play with no cut.

Jordan Neibrugge, the 2013 Western Amateur and US Public Links champion and world number 9, is the highest ranked world amateur in the field with Oliver Schniederjans, ranked number 11, supporting his fellow countryman.

Zimbabwe’s top-ranked player and world number 19 Scott Vincent will compete in his first Master of the Amateurs, with Australia’s Taylor MacDonald our highest world ranked player at 20.

Australian marquee players who have either qualified or been invited include Todd Sinnott, Geoff Drakeford, Jordan Zunic, Chris Brown, Ryan Ruffels, Jarryd Felton, Daniel Hoeve and defending champion Viraat Badhwar.

The Master of the Amateurs has already proved to be a prominent stepping stone in the golfing careers of Australians Jason Day and Brendan Jones and the US PGA Tour’s young gun, Rickie Fowler.

Day won the title in 2006, Jones in 1999 and Fowler narrowly went down to fellow American Mark Anderson after a four hole play-off in 2009.

Last year, Badhwar won the title with a two stroke victory over third round leader Brady Watt after firing a 2-under-par 70 to finish with a 9-under-par total.

Geoff Drakeford had entered the final round in a share of second place but he also had trouble with the challenging final round conditions finishing with a 3-over-par 75 to take third position at 6-under, a stroke ahead of the 2012 winner Nathan Holman, who took outright fourth position at 5-under.

Both Holman and Watt have since turned professional. Drakeford and Badhwar have returned and the West Course at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club should again provide the perfect test with pars at a premium. Last year only nine of the fifty-four invited players bettered par for the four round tournament.

The 2014 Australian Master of the Amateurs Champion will receive exemptions into the British Amateur, the Brabazon Trophy, Porter Cup, Players Amateur, Dogwood Invitational and the Canadian Men’s Amateur championships.