Top amateurs ready for Riversdale Cup

The Riversdale Cup is Australia’s second oldest amateur championship behind only the Australian Amateur and it’s an event steeped in history having its origins back in 1896.

Each March in Melbourne our top amateurs eye off one of the most prized amateur tournaments on the golfing calendar as they do battle around the challenging Riversdale parkland layout.

Ryan Ruffels Ryan Ruffels (Credit: Anthony Powter)

Former winners include Robert Allenby (1990-91), Brendan Jones (1998), Aaron Baddeley (1999), Michael Sim (2004), Scott Arnold (2008), Jordan Sherratt (2009), British Amateur champion Jin Jeong (2010), Nathan Holman (2011), Jake Higginbottom (2012) and last year Brady Watt rebounded brilliantly in the final round to finish at 6-under-par and a three stroke victory over Ruben Sondjaja and Brett Drewitt.

At 6027 metres Riversdale Golf Club is not overly long by modern day standards. The course is presented in raw historic style with wispy rough surrounds, pure greens and manicured fairways.

Precision off the tee rewards the player and those that elect the power game do so at their own peril.

This year’s field is brimming with fresh talent, none more so that Victorians Zach Murray and Ryan Ruffels as they will go head-to-head with the more seasoned amateurs including Jordan Zunic, Geoff Drakeford, Todd Sinnott, Aaron Wilkin and Taylor MacDonald.

Murray and Ruffles played stellar golf at the Australian Amateur in South Australia last month and should perform well this week. They both impressed in Adelaide with their disciplined style of golf at The Grange and that will suit them well at Riversdale.

With four wins already to his credit this year you cannot go by without mentioning Jarryd Felton as one of the favourites at Riversdale.

Felton has been nothing short of stunning this summer and comes off a win at the Tasmanian Open last month, which was on the back of the New South Wales Amateur title the week before.

The world number 30 has secured top-10 results in his last eight starts. Expect to see him in the running come Sunday.

Lucas Herbert is the top-ranked amateur in the 120 strong field with the world number 21 coming off a strong top-20 finish last week at the Victorian Open.

Herbert steps up in these bigger events as shown by his impressive third place at the Australian Master of the Amateurs and a runner up at the Australian Amateur Medal.

I’ve always been impressed with Jordan Zunic’s game and despite a disappointing finish at the Lake Macquarie Amateur where he finished 4th after sniffing the lead heading into the final day the 2013 Tasmanian Open winner is due for a win.

Zunic appears more at home on the links, yet is experienced enough to find his way around Riversdale. I tend to favour his chances this week.

Taylor MacDonald is another who knows how to play these bigger events and should feature this week.

The world number 27 last won at Keperra in October and since then has strung together five top-10 finishes, proving why he should never be discounted especially if his driving is on song.

Close finishes are common at Riversdale with the driveable 282 metre par 4 18th the sudden death playoff hole sure to provide plenty of excitement.

It sets the stage for another fantastic tournament in one of our most prestigious amateur titles.