Thursday, June 10, 2010


Amateur golfers from 37 countries, including Bolivia, India, China and Australia, will arrive in Scotland this week ahead of the 2010 Amateur Championship. A strong international field containing 11 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) Top 20 will contest the Championship at Muirfield and North Berwick golf clubs next week, 14-19 June. A place at the 150th Anniversary Open Championship and the 2011 Masters Tournament are on offer for the Champion.
The highest-ranked player in the field is the USA’s Jonathan Randolph at fourth in the world. He leads a strong American contingent of 25 players at Muirfield and North Berwick, all hoping to emulate fellow American Drew Weaver, the 2007 Amateur Champion at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
In eight starts in counting events this year, University of Mississippi junior Randolph, 21, has registered two wins, two seconds and three third-place finishes.
Ranked just below the American pair at sixth in the world is Korea’s Jin Jeong. Jeong, who plays most of his golf in Australia, earned his Amateur exemption courtesy of a three-shot victory at March’s Riversdale Cup: that victory just one of three triumphs the 20-year-old has enjoyed in 2010.
Another man to watch is Australian Matt Jager, winner of both the Australian Match Play and Stroke Play championships in consecutive weeks earlier this year at Lake Karrinyup Country Club near Perth. The 21-year-old, who also claimed the New Zealand Amateur in 2010, is currently ranked 48th in the world.
Two of last year’s semi-finalists, Stiggy Hodgson, who took two points out of four during last September’s Walker Cup Match, and Darren Renwick, both return in the hope of improving on their Formby performances.
At Formby last year, Hodgson, 19, knocked out 38-year-old South African Ryan Dreyer in the last 16. Dreyer, a former professional golfer who now plays professional poker, won the 2009 South African Amateur Championship, the 2010 Gauteng North Open and, on the poker table, the WAGR number 81 won the 2008 Sun City Million Dollar Poker Tournament.
Two-time Faldo Series Asia champion Rashid Khan will also take his place on the East Lothian links next week. The 19-year-old, ranked 29th in the world, has won four times in 2010, most recently at the Punjab Open in early May.
Britons to watch include England’s Tommy Fleetwood, Welshman Rhys Enoch, Alan Dunbar of Northern Ireland and Scots James Byrne and David Law. Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup player Fleetwood, currently ranked 10th in the world, lost to Dutchman Reinier Saxton in the final of the 2008 Amateur Championship at Turnberry and reached the quarter-finals at Formby last year.
88th-ranked Enoch recently tied first place at the NCAA East Regional qualifier, playing for his college, East Tennessee State University, and Dunbar, 20, won May’s Irish Amateur Open Championship at the Royal Dublin Golf Club.
James Byrne, who was selected to represent Europe in the Bonnallack Trophy Match earlier this year along with countryman Ross Kellett, is the highest-ranked Scot at 18th in the world. 19-year-old David Law, meanwhile, is the reigning Scottish Boys and Scottish Amateur Champion.


A strong contingent of 56 Scottish players will arrive in East Lothian next week in search of the first home Amateur Championship victory since Stuart Wilson won at St Andrews in 2004.
The highest-ranked of the 56 is Banchory’s James Byrne, who reached the 2009 Amateur Championship last 16 at Formby. Byrne, currently in his junior year at Arizona State University, occupies 18th place in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, his highest position to date. He was selected to represent Europe in the Bonallack Trophy this year.
Also selected was Ross Kellett of Colville Park Golf Club in Motherwell. Kellett’s Amateur Championship record is one better than Byrne’s, the 22-year-old having reached the quarter-finals of Royal Lytham and St Annes in 2007, before losing out to fellow Scot and Challenge Tour player Callum Macaulay 4&3.
"I feel pretty comfortable around Muirfield,” said Kellett, who finished runner-up at both the New South Wales Amateur and Argentina Amateur last year. “I played in the Home Internationals there in 2008, and a Scottish Golf Union team plays against a members’ select team every season as well. That experience can only help during the Amateur.
“My match play record is good, but the first priority is coming through qualifying. Missing my last two cuts is disappointing [the Scottish Stroke Play Championship and the St Andrews Links Trophy], but I feel I've been playing well enough, I've just not been getting any breaks. You need a bit of luck in golf at times.
“Hopefully I'll be ready at the Amateur. There's a lot at stake that week, what with the chance of playing in The Open and the Masters if you win. But you have to forget all of that and stay focused on the job," he added.
More successful at the Links Trophy was Troon Welbeck golfer Michael Stewart, who finished in a tie for seventh place seven shots off the lead, but only two off second place. Philip McLean, also due to contest the Amateur Championship, was the highest-placed Scot after four rounds at the Home of Golf, finishing tied for second place.
Former Scottish boys champion Stewart, who has won twice on the US College circuit playing for East Tennessee State University, said: “Muirfield is up there with my favourite courses and I won a Scottish Golf Union Junior Tour event at North Berwick back in 2006, so I have quite good memories of East Lothian.”
"I missed the cut in the Scottish Stroke Play in my first event back since returning from the US but I wasn't my usual self that week. There was no flair, but my game is getting better and sharper now. It's all about peaking at the right time and the Amateur would be perfect time to do that.”
Local interest will focus on Craigielaw’s Mark Hillson, who was the highest-placed Scot at the 2009 Amateur Championship, progressing to the quarter-finals before being defeated by England’s Darren Renwick.
The 115th Amateur Championship will take place at Muirfield and North Berwick golf clubs on 14-19 June. 288 players will play two rounds of stroke play, one each at Muirfield and North Berwick, before 64 players and ties progress to the match play rounds beginning on Wednesday at Muirfield. A place at the 150th Anniversary Open Championship and the 2011 Masters Tournament are on offer for the 2010 Champion.



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