Watt our best hope at Western Amateur

The 111th Western Amateur starts this week at The Alotian Club outside Little Rock, Arkansas, as 156 of the game’s top amateurs attempt to win one of the oldest and most prestigious amateur titles.

This year the Western Amateur will feature 54 of the world’s top 100 players compared to 40 last year when the field was ranked second-strongest in the world, only behind the US Amateur Championship.

Brady Watt Brady Watt (Credit: Anthony Powter)

The field will feature the world’s top five amateurs – Cory Whitsett, Michael Kim, Justin Thomas, Bobby Wyatt and Patrick Rodgers. Three have made the cut in various PGA Tour events and four already have been named in this year’s US Walker Cup Team.

Brady Watt is the highest ranked Australian competing this week and is coming off his third top-10 finish with a T3 at last week’s Porter Cup, which was Watt’s fourth top-15 finish from four starts in the US.

Easily our best performing player in a US tour which has seen mixed results for the Australians, Watt will carry the Aussie hopes for victory with Bronson LaCassie the last Australian to win the tournament back in 2006.

Players got in a practice round on Monday, with the tournament proper beginning today under a format that makes the Western Amateur one of the most gruelling tournaments in amateur golf.

After 18 holes of stroke play on both Tuesday and Wednesday, the field will be cut to the low 44 and ties.

Those competitors will play 18 holes on both Thursday and Friday to determine the 16 qualifiers for the match-play portion of the tournament that includes two rounds Saturday and two more on Sunday, with the Championship final Sunday afternoon.

In testament to the level of field this tournament attracts, players who have made the sweet sixteen in the Western Amateur have won 29 of the last 35 PGA Tour Player of the Year awards and more than 70 major championships.