Eccles 66 leads Master of the Amateurs

Ben Eccles fired an opening round 66 for a three shot lead over fellow Aussies Cory Crawford, Lucas Herbert, Zach Murray and England’s Nick Marsh at the Australian Master of the Amateurs being played at Royal Melbourne.

Eccles’ last victory was in the 2013 NSW Amateur Medal, yet has secured a string of top-10 finishes in 2014, including a tied 3rd finish at the China Amateur and a 4th place finish at the Porter Cup in the US.

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This week’s field includes four of the world’s top-10 players with American Will Zalatoris the top-ranked player at number 4.

Zalatoris has the added incentive to win this event, as it will see him pass Oliver Schniederjans to become the world number 1. The American opened with a solid 1-under-par 71 to be five behind Eccles.

Eighteen players are within of five strokes of Eccles and this tournament is again shaping up to be another hard fought contest over one of the world’s best layouts.

Team USA leads the World Cup, the aggregate of two-players scores, with Brian Campbell 71 adding to Will Zalatoris’s 71 to be a stroke a head of Australia after Ryan Ruffels carded a 74 to add to Herbert’s 69.