Nisbet heads Aussies at Western Amateur

Daniel Nisbet heads a stellar Aussie and international lineup at this week’s Western Amateur being contested at Exmoor Country Club July 30-Aug 4 in Highland Park, north of Chicago.

Nisbet recently secured The Players Amateur title to become the first Australian to win in the US since Brett Drewitt at the 2010 Pacific Northwest Amateur.

Daniel Nisbet Daniel Nisbet heads the Australian charge this week at the Western Amateur in Chicago (Photo: Anthony Powter)

Ranked 37th in the world on the R&A/USGA World Amateur leaderboard before entering The Players Amateur, Nisbet continues to climb to now sit at 25th entering the tournament this week.

World number seven, Jake Higginbottom, is the lowest ranked Aussie at the Western Amateur and starts the event with plenty of confidence after setting a new course record on Sunday at Exmoor Country Club during the Contestant-Amateur event.

Higginbottom, 18, carded an impressive 8-under par 63 after going out in 30 and coming home in 33. His round included 10 birdies and one bogey to break the old course record by a stroke.

Cameron Smith is coming off a 4th place finish at The Porter Cup and should perform well this week as should Matt Stieger, who recently took sectional medallist honours to qualify for the US Amateur. The New South Welshman played well at The Porter Cup finishing in a tie for 5th.

Stieger also made the quarter-finals of the British Amateur and is a solid performer in these bigger events.

Brett Drewitt is another, who has performed consistently this US tour winning sectional medallist honours to qualify for the US Amateur as well as securing a top-20 finish at the Players Amateur and a 4th place at the Sahalee Players.

Ryan McCarthy, Todd Sinnott and Rory Bourke are all confident after gaining qualification to the US Amateur.

The field features more than 40 of the top 100 amateurs in the world, making the Western Amateur among the top three-ranked amateur golf events in the world. Six of the world’s top-10 amateurs are in the field, including four of the top six.

A combination of stroke play and match play competition, the Western Amateur is considered one of the most demanding events of world amateur golf.

Competition includes two 18-hole stroke play rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday followed by a cut to the players with the low 44 scores and ties.

Those who make the cut then play 36 holes of stroke play on Thursday, with the low 16 advancing to elimination match play starting Friday, with the championship match scheduled for Saturday.

Past champions include Jack Nicklaus, Lanny Wadkins, Andy North, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange, Hal Sutton, Scott Verplank, Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard, Ryan Moore and Tiger Woods.

Runners up and stroke-play medallists include such PGA Tour players as Ben Curtis, Jason Gore, Jay Haas, Tom Kite, Rocco Mediate, Gil Morgan, Mark O’Meara, Chris Riley, Camilo Villegas, and Tom Watson. The legendary Bobby Jones was stroke play medallist in 1920.

Last year Todd Sinnott and Nathan Holman were the best of the Australians finishing outside the desired sweet 16 in a tie for 32nd position. Holman is also in this year’s field.

Bronson La’Cassie is the only Australian to take the title defeating Pablo Martin, 2&1, in 2006, while James Nitties finished runner-up in 2004 to Ryan Moore on the 19th.