Australian Amateur kicks off in South Australia

The Australian Men’s Amateur Championships starts today in Adelaide with 288 players competing at The Grange Golf Club in an attempt to gain qualification to the match play positions and tournament proper.

Qualifying is held over 36-holes of the West and East Courses at The Grange with the leading 64 players then contesting elimination match play starting Thursday.

Cory Crawford Cory Crawford (Credit: Anthony Powter)

The 2013 Men’s Champion Cameron Smith has since turned professional and will not be defending his title, with the 2013 runner-up Geoff Drakeford competing.

The men’s championship promises to deliver interesting results after the progression to the paid ranks of a number of seasoned amateurs which has paved the way for the next wave of amateur young guns to showcase their talents.

In its third year of a revised format, which sees only two rounds of stroke as opposed to four, attention is drawn to which of the 216 player field are considered the better match-play exponents.

Last week’s Australian Master of the Amateurs at Royal Melbourne provided some insight in to the form players heading to Adelaide.

Master of the Amateurs winner Simon Viitakangas delivered a wire-to-wire victory and played some stellar golf.

Winning the highest ranked amateur event in the country and the only Category A ranked event by the R&A certainly will give Viitakangas confidence this week and it will be interesting to see how the 21-year-old bounces back.

Cory Crawford was also impressive with the Tasmanian securing a top-5 finish in Melbourne.

Crawford is also coming off a top-20 finish at the Queensland Amateur and gained valuable experience last year competing in the Japan Tour qualifying school.

I would not be surprised to see Crawford make the match play segment and from there, seriously challenge for this title.

One bad round was all that cost Lucas Herbert his chances last week and Herbert’s final 2-under-par round at Royal Melbourne was the day’s low round and was simply impressive.

Herbert got his round to 4-under last Friday when the majority of the field were going backwards. He recently made the quarter-finals of the Victorian Amateur, finished runner-up at the Port Phillip Amateur and secured a top-5 finish at the Asia-Pacific Amateur.

Ranked 30th in the world and the highest ranked amateur competing in Adelaide, Herbert should be a serious contender this week for the Australian Amateur title.

Taylor MacDonald is the next best ranked world amateur at 36th and comes off a top-10 finish last week in Melbourne.

MacDonald is a dual winner over the last eighteen months, securing the Keperra Bowl and Victorian Amateur. The Queenslander’s fine run of form has seen him bank five top-20 results and a win from his last five events and with consistency of this nature, MacDonald should play well this week.

Daniel Hoeve is another that I feel will feature this week, as will Ryan Ruffels and Aaron Wilkin. Todd Sinnott also comes to the championship with one of his best weeks behind him with a runner-up finish at the Australian Master of the Amateurs.

The Australian Amateur champion receives an exemption into the 2014 Australian Open.