The Amateur Championship – 2018 Preview, Reports & Results

Saturday 23rd June 2018

Jovan REBULA (RSA) is the 2018 Amateur champion.

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Jovan Rebula (Photo: The R&A / Mark Runnacles / Getty Images)

He is the first South African winner since Bobby Cole in 1966 and can now look forward to playing in the 2018 Open Championship at Carnoustie Links, the 2019 Masters at Augusta National and the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

He beat Robin DAWSON, 22, (IRE) 3&2 in today’s 36 hole Final at Royal Aberdeen G.C.

Following his win 20 year old Jovan spoke to The R&A: “It’s unreal. It’s really something that is hard to describe. I feel like many have been in this position before but its an unreal feeling. It hasn’t sunk in quite yet but hopefully tomorrow morning I can wake up and I will feel a little different.

“I’m shattered. It’s been a long week and especially today. I should have finished maybe a couple of holes earlier, but it’s been awesome. A very tiring week. I’m standing here right now and there’s so much adrenaline pumping through me.

“I had my friend Matt (Saulez) on the bag and he has been unbelievable for me this week. He’s been the foundation to me, keeping me calm, and we just have an awesome time out there. It’s just so much fun.”

It was cloudy with a modest north westerly breeze blowing when the morning round started at 8.30am; conditions which remained throughout the day, save for a slight increase in the wind speed later in the day.

Here’s The R&A film of the opening tee shots.

Both players made a steady start halving the first five holes. The South African then birdied 6 before being gifted 7 and 8 when Dawson bogeyed. The remainder of the morning round was up and down with Rebula eventually taking a 1-Up lead into lunch.

A poor front nine in the afternoon round by Dawson allowed Rebula to extend his lead to 5-Up by the turn. Both players settled and halved the opening three holes of the back nine in par. Then the nerves seemed to kick in particularly for the South African whose mind may have started to wander given his strong position. Double bogeys on the 13th and 15th gave Dawson some encouragement.

However, hopes of a big turnaround over the last few holes like last year were quickly extinguished on 16 when Rebula got up and down from a green side bunker to close out the match 3&2.

Here are the full hole by hole scores from today’s Final.

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Jovan Rebula v. Robin Dawson Final Scoreboard (Photo: R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship Final Scores

With Wilco NIENABER also winning the Stroke Play Qualifying the Championship proved to be a very successful one for the South African’s.

It was the fifth time a South African had made the Final but just the second time they had claimed the Gold Medal: –
2014 – Zander Lombard Lost 2&1
1997 – Trevor Immelman Lost 3&2
1988 – Ben Fouchee Lost 1 Hole
1980 – David Suddards Lost 4&3
1966 – Bobby Cole Won 3&2

It wasn’t long before his Uncle Ernie passed on his congratulations to Jovan too.

ME.

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Friday 22nd June 2018

Playing conditions proved to be far more amenable today. Whilst cloudy, with temperatures struggling to rise above 13°C, the north westerly wind was much more manageable at 15mph.

Semi Finals

Jovan REBULA (RSA) beat Mitch WAITE (ENG) 6&4. Waite has enjoyed a very good year and Championship but like compatriot Tom Sloman this morning was unable to find his game in this afternoon’s semi final. Rebula was again not made to work very hard for his victory.

Rebula, the 20 year old nephew of Ernie Els, plays for Auburn University in Alabama and finished tied 21st in the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship in late May. He joined up with the South African touring party for the recent St. Andrews Links Trophy but missed the cut by 1-shot.

Speaking to The R&A afterwards Jovan said: “My game was really solid and I kept the ball in play all day. I took advantage on the holes you need to attack, played it clever out there and I’ve got a good feel of the golf course at this stage. I’m honestly having so much fun. I’m not even looking at my opponents beforehand. I just take it easy and spend time with my mates. They’ve been a great support structure. Also, they keep me motivated and it’s awesome having one of my good friends (Matt Saulez) on the bag too. I’ve been working hard towards this so being able to reach the final is such a big thing and hopefully I can take it a step further tomorrow.”

Tomorrow he will play Robin DAWSON in the 36 hole Final over the Balgownie Links at Royal Aberdeen G.C., their match starting at 8.30am.

Dawson was too good for Conor PURCELL this afternoon winning 3&2. Purcell handed Dawson the initiative with bogeys on the 1st and 3rd and despite fighting all the way to the end couldn’t get close to his fellow Irishman.

Speaking to The R&A afterwards Robin said:“It feels good. I’m somewhat relieved to make it this far and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m a bit tired now so it’ll be good to get a good sleep tonight and get set for tomorrow. Today was great but it wasn’t easy (playing against fellow countrymen). They are both good friends of mine from being in Ireland teams in the past but we had a couple of good friendly matches out there today. It was nice. I had a good strategy in place and was just hitting decent shots. My swing was good and I was in my own little world at times out there, which was great. To get the chance to play in one major, never mind three, is great. I would love that opportunity but there is still a lot of golf to play tomorrow.”

Dropping very few shots in his two matches today Robin should go in to the Final with great confidence. The winner of the Irish Amateur in May is seemingly in complete control of his game.

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship Semi Final Results

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Quarter Finals

The Quarter Finals started at 8.15am with Tom SLOMAN (ENG) taking on Jovan REBULA (RSA) in Match 1. Unfortunately it proved to be a game too far for Sloman who will be disappointed that he didn’t make the South African work harder for his 2&1 victory. Neither player was at their best this morning in a poor quality affair.

England’s other quarter finalist Mitch WAITE faired better beating Christoffer PÅLSSON (SWE) 3&2. As is becoming the norm for Waite it was far from straight forward. He was 3-Up after 7, before slipping to AS after 12 and then recovering to win comfortably on the 16th.

Conor PURCELL recorded an eagle and 4 birdies in a great 3&2 win over David MICHELUZZI (AUS). Micheluzzi, the highest ranked player left in the field, was simply unable to live with the Irishman’s superb play in the middle of their match.

In perhaps the highest quality Quarter Final Robin DAWSON overcame fellow Irishman John MURPHY 2&1. The Waterford man had the upper hand throughout but was certainly made to work hard for the win.

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship Quarter Final Results

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Thursday 21st June 2018

It was a dry but cool day in Aberdeen, temperatures not rising much above 13°C. The wind was the big story. Like yesterday it was primarily from the north west but today it consistently blew at 25mph with occasional gusts reported of up to 45mph.

This made playing conditions particularly challenging. With hole-by-hole scoring now available (click the score or result in the middle of each game to reveal) it was clear to see how tough the links played today.

Round 4

Round 4 proved to be the end of the line for Wilco NIENABER (RSA). In a tight match where neither player led by more than 1 hole Tom SLOMAN (ENG) was handed a 1-Up win when the 18 year old South African missed a relatively short par putt on the last hole.

Fellow South African Jovan REBULA was behind for virtually all of his match before two bogeys on the last two holes by Ben HUTCHINSON ensured there would be Boks representation in the Quarter Finals. Rebula won by 1 hole.

Match 3 arguably proved to be the most exciting in the last 16 with Bristol’s Mitch WAITE attempting to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory before thankfully saving the day against Timo VAHLENKAMP. As you can see from the scorecard below the German made a strong comeback over the last 8 holes but a three putt on the 19th meant it was all in vein.

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Mitch Waite v. Timo Vahlenkamp Rd 4 Scoreboard (Photo: R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Christoffer PÅLSSON (SWE) again didn’t have to work very hard to progress. Luca FILIPPI (RSA) struggled this afternoon and easily fell to a 4&3 defeat.

Conor PURCELL (IRE) was the first of three Irish to make the last 8 at The Amateur Championship. The Charlotte 49ers via Dublin golfer reeled off five birdies in 6 holes from the 11th to blow away Adam BLOMMÉ (SWE).

Robin DAWSON was next up. He beat Elis SVÄRD 6&5 as the relatively inexperienced Swede finally bowed out having enjoyed a very good Championship.

John MURPHY, who seems to have transformed himself into a world beater in the last two weeks, was the third Irishman to make it through to the Quarter Finals. He beat a clearly out of sorts Viktor HOVLAND (NOR) 6&5.

Murphy talking to The R&A afterwards said: “I feel a lot more confident coming off the back of winning the St. Andrews Links Trophy. I feel I can win against the top ranked players in the world and I don’t think I would have felt that way without the victory last week. I’m feeling good and every part of my game is clicking. I was the 14th Reserve so when I got the call to say I was playing here at Balgownie I was delighted.”

There were a number of one sided matches this afternoon as perhaps the physical and mental exertions of the last four days started to affect some of the remaining competitors.

In the other last 16 game David MICHELUZZI played well to beat Paul PEREDA (MEX) 5&4. The experienced Australian seems to be making very comfortable progress, largely under the radar, and must now be one of the favourites for the title.

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship MP Round 4 Results

Round 3

The highlight of this morning’s golf was the final match, played between relatively unknown Tom FORSTER (ENG) and WAGR Number 5 Viktor HOVLAND (NOR).

Forster, who is studying in the USA at NCAA Division II college Carson-Newman, is clearly not a respecter of reputations as he gave Hovland, one of the star players at Oklahoma State, the 2018 NCAA Division I champions, a game to remember.

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Tom Forster v. Viktor Hovland Rd 3 Scoreboard (Photo: R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

As you can see from the above scoreboard Forster led 4-Up after 13 holes, Hovland in all kinds of trouble in the wind. Thankfully the Norwegian recovered his senses just in time and with a little help from an increasingly nervous Forster escaped with a 1 hole victory.

Round 3 started at 7.30am with Wilco NIENABER (RSA) playing US-based Perry COHEN (SUI) in Match 1. The stroke play medalist started well and quickly built a 3-Up lead after 8 holes. However, some loose play around the turn and improvement by Cohen saw the match All Square with just the 18th to play. In the end a par down the last was good enough to secure the win for the South African protégé.

Tom SLOMAN (ENG) enjoyed a tight match with Jeff WRIGHT (SCO). A bogey on the 17th by the battling Scotsman finally letting in the big man from Somerset, who would hold on down the last for a 1 hole win.

Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) overcame Rowan LESTER 2&1 in Match 3. The Irishman was leading 1-Up after 15 but sadly stumbled down the last 3 holes.

Ben JONES (ENG) had an horrific start in his match and was quickly 5-Down to Timo VAHLENKAMP after just 7 holes. The German youngster ran out a surprisingly easy winner 7&5 in the end.

Mitch WAITE (ENG) beat Stuart EASTON (SCO) by 1 hole in a rollercoaster match.  Waite was 2-Up after 4 before then falling 3-Down after 11. Easton then lost his way, recording four bogeys in a row, allowing the man from Bristol to pull 1-Up after 15. Both players then steadied themselves before halving the last in double-bogey 6, Waite moving on.

James SUGRUE (IRE) lost 3&2 to Christoffer PÅLSSON (SWE) in what appears to have been a poor quality Match 7. The Irishman bogeyed or failed to finish 11 of the 16 holes contested.

Matthew JORDAN (ENG) looked comfortable early on against Conor PURCELL (IRE) but let things slip. Purcell, who plays out of Portmarnock, the 2019 host course, drew level after Jordan bogeyed the 18th and then completed the coup de grâce with a 40 foot chip in on their first extra hole.

Scotland bowed out of the Championship later in the morning when their remaining player Sandy SCOTT lost 3&1 to Mexico’s Paul PEREDA.

Match 13 saw Robin DAWSON (IRE) take on Spain’s Victor PASTOR. Dawson struggled on the front nine but played the back nine superbly in 3-under to run out the winner by 2 holes.

In a very similar match Dawson’s compatriot John MURPHY played the back nine very well to overcome Lee WALKER (USA) 4&2 having earlier been 2-Down after 8 holes.

Jovan REBULA (1 Hole) and Luca FILIPPI (4&3) were the winners in the two all-South African matches beating  Malcolm MITCHELL and Therion NEL respectively.

There were also wins for Adam BLOMMÉ (SWE), the ever impressive Australian David MICHELUZZI and giant killer Elis SVÄRD (SWE).

At the end of the morning our 14 GB&I players had been reduced to just 6.

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship MP Round 3 Results

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Wednesday 20th June 2018

Round 2

Wilco NIENABER (RSA) started his Round 2 match against Niclas WEILAND at 9.15am. Showing no signs of faltering, as often happens with the medalist, he quickly despatched the Swede 5&4.

Malcolm MITCHELL (RSA), David MICHELUZZI (AUS), Paul PEREDA (MEX) and Victor HOVLAND (NOR) are amongst the other highly ranked overseas players who are through to Round 3. However, it was a surprise to see Lorenzo SCALISE (ITA) lose, albeit he took Adam BLOMMÉ (SWE) to the 21st in the longest match of the Championship so far.

GB&I contributed 26 players to the 64 that started Round 2. We finished the day down to 14.

The Irish party are doing well. Rowan LESTER will be pleased with his performance; he beat fellow St. Andrews Trophy squad member David HAGUE (ENG) 6&5. James SUGRUE beat Australian Kyle MICHEL on the 19th hole whilst Conor PURCELL overcame Pablo RODRIGUEZ-TABERNERO TORRES (ESP) 2&1 to progress. Robin DAWSON took control of his match against David RAVETTO (FRA) from the start and ran out a comfortable 4&2 winner. Finally, John MURPHY made it 5 for the ‘Green Army’ coming from being behind early on to beat Oliver FARRELL (ENG) 4&2.

Scotland have three representatives in Round 3. Jeff WRIGHT showed great determination to take out compatriot Euan MCINTOSH on their first extra hole; Euan having qualified strongly and played well for most of this match too. Stuart EASTON beat Australian Will HEFFERNAN by 1 hole before Sandy SCOTT took care of Claudio CONSOL (GER) 3&2.

Of the 13 Round 1 winners just four could do the business again. One of these was Thomas FORSTER who surprised Daniel HILLIER (NZE) 2&1. The Englishman was joined by Tom SLOMAN, who beat Jediah MORGAN (AUS) by 1 hole, and Mitch WAITE, who enjoyed the biggest win of the afternoon, 6&4 against German Alexander HERRMANN. Wins for Ben HUTCHINSON, Ben JONES and Matthew JORDAN took the English qualifiers up to 6. Hutchinson beat Jamie LI (ENG) 5&3, Jones recorded a good 2 holes win against Matt SAULEZ (RSA) whilst Jordan ended up having to go to the 20th to finally despatch Finland’s battling Matias HONKALA.

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship MP Round 2 Results

 

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The Amateur Championship Trophy (Photo: Dominik Holyer) 

Round 1

Game 1 of the Match Play Stage between Eetu ISOMETSÄ (FIN) and Robin WILLIAMS (ENG) teed off at Royal Aberdeen G.C. at 7.00am. It was raining, with a north westerly wind appearing for the first time.

It was a game that Williams would disappointingly go on to lose 3&2.

Of the 30 qualifying GB&I players 8 were required to play in this preliminary Round 1 which consisted of 13 matches.

John PATERSON (SCO), Jack COPE (ENG), Oliver FARRELL (ENG) and Thomas FORSTER (ENG) were successful with the last three all requiring extra holes to overcome stubborn opponents. Cope ended up beating compatriot Max O’HAGAN, who had led for much of their match, on the 20th hole.

Callan BARROW (ENG) lost 4&3 to Top 100 SPWAR ranked Mexican Paul PEREDA.

Australia-based Scot Robbie MORRISON lost by 1 hole to experienced German Claudio CONSUL.

The 13 winners of these Round 1 matches fed into the bottom of the Round 2 draw and would therefore be required to play again in the afternoon.

The rest of the field will certainly have been pleased to see Takumi KANAYA (JAP), Alvaro ORTIZ (MEX) and Matias SANCHEZ (AUS) all surprisingly fall at this first step.

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship MP Round 1 Results

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Tuesday 19th June 2018

18 year old Wilco NIENABER (RSA) shot a 67 (-4) at Royal Aberdeen G.C. today to secure medalist honours at the 2018 Amateur Championship. His impressive 133 (-8) total included 11 birdies and just three bogeys.

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Wilco Nienaber’s Stroke Play Scores (Photo: R&A / Golfbox)

In an interview quoted on The R&A website Wilco said: “When I heard I was going to play The Amateur Championship this year I was really excited. To finish at the top after the qualifying is great. I made good decisions from the tee, stuck to my game plan and hit the greens. When I missed a green I got up and down – I kept the momentum going and didn’t really make a lot of bogeys. The match play stage is a different game but winning this or finishing at the top makes me feel like I can beat the other guys, which is really nice. So we will see what happens this week.”

Watch Wilco’s interview with GolfWeek’s Alistair Tait after the stroke play qualifying prize presentation: –

Two shots further back was Victor HOVLAND (NOR) who finished second in the stroke play qualifying on 135 (-6). Hovland shot a 65 (-5) at Murcar Links today, the best score on this course over the two days.

Sam MEEK (CAN), who recorded rounds of 69 and 69 for a 138 (-3) total, finished third to claim the final stroke play qualifying prize.

MATT SAULEZ (RSA) and Blake WINDRED (AUS) joined Wilco in shooting 67 at Royal Aberdeen today. This was the best score at the lead host course during the stroke play stage.

Harry HALL (ENG) recorded a second successive 70 today to finish on 140 (-1). His tied 5th result was the best of all of the GB&I players in the field.

Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) Ev and Mitch WAITE (ENG) +1 finished 8th and tied 9th respectively.

At the end of play the top 64 and ties match play cut fell at +6 with 77 players progressing.

There were 30 GB&I qualifiers in total including 2018 winners John MURPHY (IRE) +2, Matthew JORDAN (ENG) +3, Robin DAWSON (IRE) +3 and Billy MCKENZIE (ENG) +4.

With the wind dropping on Day 2 and the sun shining for the most part the scores were much improved. Murcar Links (par 70) saw it’s average score drop to 73.94 from yesterday’s 77.30 (-3.36) whilst Royal Aberdeen’s (par 71) fell from 76.86 to 73.98 (-2.88). Clearly those that played at the tougher Murcar Links yesterday had a slight disadvantage over the two days of qualifying.

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship Stroke Play Qualifying Results

Amongst the leading players to miss out were Joe PAGDIN (ENG) +7, Dylan PERRY (AUS) +7, Andrew WILSON (ENG) +7, Calum FYFE (SCO) +8, Euan WALKER (SCO) +8, John AXELSON (DEN) +8, Angel HIDALGO (ESP) +8, Christo LAMPRECHT (RSA) +8, Clayton MANSFIELD (RSA) +9, Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) +9, Sam LOCKE (SCO) +9, Nick POPPLETON (ENG) +9, Alex GLEESON (IRE) +10, Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) +10, Jake BURNAGE (ENG) +11, Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) +13, Bailey GILL (ENG) +14, Jamie STEWART (SCO) +16, Garrick HIGGO (RSA) +17, Todd CLEMENTS (ENG) +17 and John PAK (USA) +18. 

ME.

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Monday 18th June 2018

Wilco NIENABER (RSA) shot a 66 (-4) at Murcar Links to lead the 36 hole Stroke Play Qualifying after Round 1 of the 123rd Amateur Championship.

David MICHELUZZI (AUS) and Sam MEEK (CAN) are second having both posted 69’s (-2), the best round of the day, at Royal Aberdeen G.C.

Laird SHEPHERD (ENG) was the only GB&I player to post an under par score; his 69 (-1) at Murcar Links leaving him in tied 4th place.

Euan MCINTOSH (SCO), who hit the first tee shot at Royal Aberdeen at 7.00am this morning, shot 71 (Ev) and finished the day tied 7th alongside Harry HALL (ENG) whose 70 (Ev) at Murcar Links looked like being much better for most of his round.

On a windy but sunny day in Scotland the average score was higher at Murcar Links (77.30 / +7.30 in relation to par) than at Royal Aberdeen (76.86 / +5.86).

After 18 holes there are 60 players on +3 or better, with a further 31 on +4, implying that the top 64 and ties cut will be around +7.

The final stroke play round will start at 7.00am tomorrow morning with each competitor playing on the other host course.

ME.

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17th June 2018

Unsurprisingly Chun An YU (CTP), who played the first two rounds of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, has withdrawn from this year’s Amateur Championship.

Other late withdrawals include William BUHL (USA), Falko HANISCH (GER) – winner of the 2016 Boys’ Amateur Championship at Muirfield -, Noah COMBS (USA), Yuxin LIN (CHN), Zach MURRAY (AUS) and Raphael GEISSLER (GER).

Click here to view the final – 2018 Amateur Championship Stroke Play Draw

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15th June 2018

The 123rd Amateur Championship starts on Monday 18th June at Royal Aberdeen G.C. and Murcar Links G.C. in north east Scotland.

The Amateur is the most prestigious amateur golf event played outside of the United States and without question the highlight of the Great British and Irish (GB&I) amateur season.

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Royal Aberdeen Golf Club (Photo: Royal Aberdeen G.C.)

Format

288 players will play two stroke play qualifying rounds, one round on each course, on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th June.

As in previous years tee times will commence at 7.00am and end at 3.52pm on both days.

The 64 players with the lowest 36 hole scores, and ties for 64th place, will advance to the match play stage and be seeded in line with their qualifying finishes.

The match play games will be played solely at Royal Aberdeen between Wednesday 20th and Saturday 23rd June.

Matches will be played over 18 holes except for Saturday’s Final which will be over 36 holes.

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5th hole, Murcar Links Golf Club (Photo: Albrecht Golf Guide)

Players

The 288 players are drawn firstly from a number of exempt categories covering R&A and U.S.G.A. Championship performances and representative teams. Thereafter places are allocated to those players ranked 1st – 2,000th in the WAGR as at 16th May 2018 and, if required, by reference to exact handicaps.

Players from 38 different countries will contest the 2018 Amateur Championship.

Outside of the home nations the best represented countries are France (31 players), U.S.A. (23), Australia (20), Germany (14), Spain (13), Sweden (13), South Africa (10), The Netherlands (9) and Italy (8).

Whilst there are a large number of Americans playing it sadly remains the case that the vast majority of their leading players continue to skip the Championship. It is a sad state of affairs that most of them prefer to play in the Northeast Amateur Invitational at Wannamoisett C.C. in Providence, Rhode island – an event that starts on Wednesday 20th June. Without their participation The Amateur will always lack a little something despite the Major exemptions on offer. The best American this year is John PAK (SPWAR 52).

Harry ELLIS, the defending champion, has not entered the Championship. He has been playing in the U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills this week and is expected to turn pro immediately afterwards. Last year’s runner up Dylan PERRY (AUS) is back for another go at claiming the title that eluded him last year.

KristofferREITAN (NOR) 40 and Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO) 51 had both entered the Championship but both withdrew when they qualified for the U.S. Open. Chun An YU (CTP) 28 is also currently playing in New York but remains entered. It will be interesting to see if he is at Murcar Links on Monday for his 1.02pm tee time. Good on him if he is.

Looking at the the current SPWAR top 50 the leading players, in addition to Yu, competing are Viktor HOVLAND (NOR) 9, Matthew JORDAN (ENG) 12, Christo LAMPRECHT (RSA) 17, Garrick HIGGO (RSA) 24, Wilco NIENABER (RSA) 26, Todd CLEMENTS (ENG) 27, Matt SAULEZ (RSA) 29, Lorenzo SCALISE (ITA) 31, David MICHELUZZI (AUS) 33, Joey SAVOIE (CAN) 37, Malcom MITCHELL (RSA) 42 and Alvaro ORTIZ (MEX) 45.

From a GB&I perspective Robin DAWSON (IRE) 57, Jake BURNAGE (ENG) 67, Harry HALL (ENG) 68, Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) 73, David HAGUE (ENG) T74, Alex GLEESON (IRE) T74, Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) 91, Laird SHEPHERD (ENG) 95, Sandy SCOTT (SCO) 115, Ben JONES (ENG) 124, Andrew WILSON (ENG) 128, John MURPHY (IRE) 145, Bailey GILL (ENG) 177, Tom SLOMAN (ENG) 189 and Nick POPPLETON (ENG) 194 will all arrive with high hopes given their current good form.

With the nine-man GB&I St. Andrews Trophy team due to be announced in mid-July a good Amateur Championship by any of the home players will undoubtedly resonate with the selectors.

Finally, Spain’s Alejandro LARRAZABEL is an interesting entry. Alejandro won The Amateur in 2002 at Royal Porthcawl G.C. and has recently been reinstated to the amateur game. He will be the only past winner in the field.

Host Courses

For the first time in it’s history the Amateur Championship is being staged at Royal Aberdeen and Murcar Links in Scotland.

Royal Aberdeen was founded in 1780 and is the 6th oldest golf club in the world. Originally known as The Society of Golfers at Aberdeen the club’s name was changed in 1815 to Aberdeen Golf Club. In 1903 the ‘Royal’ title was conferred on the club by His Majesty King Edward VII.

The club has hosted many prestigious championships, including seven Scottish Amateurs, two Boys’ Amateur Championships, the Boys’ Jacques Léglise Trophy and perhaps most memorably the 2011 Walker Cup, when GB&I defeated the United States by a single point.

In 2005, it hosted the Senior Open which was won by five-time Open champion Tom Watson. In 2014, the Scottish Open was held there for the first time with Justin Rose coming out on top.

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Royal Aberdeen – Balgownie Links Indicative Scorecard (Photo: mygolfdays.com)

The Balgownie Links at Royal Aberdeen is a classic links with the outgoing holes played through the undulating dunes on the coast before the return on an inland plateau with numerous blind shots and hidden ditches coming into play.

Neighbouring Murcar Link’s was established in 1909 and lies to the north of the Royal Aberdeen course.

Murcar hosted the inaugural Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play competition on the European Tour in 2016. Previously it had staged the European Girls Team Championship (2009), the Scottish Amateur Stroke Play (2009) and the European Boys Team Championship (2013).

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Murcar Links Indicative Scorecard (Photo: mygolfdays.com)

Weather Forecast (last updated Sunday 17th June)

The weather forecast looks good, with very little rain and a consistent and south westerly wind expected: –

Mon 18th June – Sunny. Wind 17 mph SW. Temp. Max. 17°C / Min 7°C.
Tue 19th June – Sunny. Wind 15mph SW. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 10°C.
Wed 20th June – Showers. Wind 11mph W. Temp. Max. 13°C / Min 8°C.
Thu 21st June – Light Cloud. Wind 15mph NW. Temp. Max. 14°C / Min 9°C.
Fri 22nd June – Light Cloud. Wind 10mph SW. Temp. Max. 14°C / Min 10°C.
Sat 23rd June – Light Cloud. Wind 11mph SW. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 11°C.

Click here to view the – Latest BBC Weather Forecast For Aberdeen

Players will tee off throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday so changes in the weather and wind speed early in the week may impact the stroke play qualifying scoring.

Prizes / Exemptions

A momento is presented by The R&A to the players finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the stroke play qualifying competition, with any ties determined by a second round count back.

The winner of the match play stage will become the Champion Amateur Golfer for the year and is awarded the Championship Trophy and a Gold Medal. The runner-up receives a Silver Medal and each losing semi-finalist a Bronze Medal.

The winner of The Amateur Championship will be exempt into next month’s 147th Open Championship down the coast at Carnoustie Golf Links.

Traditionally, the champion is also invited to compete in the following year’s Masters Tournament at Augusta National G.C.

Finally, they will also be exempt into the 2019 U.S. Open Championship which is being held at Pebble Beach Golf Links in California.

2017 Amateur Championship

England’s Harry ELLIS won the 2017 Amateur Championship on the 38th hole at Royal St. George’s G.C.

4 Down with five holes to play the odds were well and truly against the then 21 year old Hampshire player. However, his opponent Dylan PERRY (AUS) bogeyed four of the last five holes to let Ellis back in.

On the second extra hole Perry got into trouble and Ellis was able to secure the famous trophy with another par, his seventh in a row.

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Harry Ellis (Photo: @RandA / Getty Images)

This was Ellis’ second major amateur victory. In 2012, aged just 16, he became the youngest player to win the English Amateur Championship.

Following in the footsteps of fellow Hampshire player Scott Gregory, Ellis said in his post round press conference: “I can’t believe what I have just done but you should never give up and never give in. I just kept giving myself chances down the stretch and luckily played much better than I had all day. It has always been a dream to play in Majors and I get to play in three now. My game is in a good place so hopefully I can do something .”

Click here to view the – 2017 Amateur Championship Stroke Play Qualifying Results

Click here to view the – 2017 Amateur Championship Match Play Results

Here is the Golfing World / R&A highlights film of the 2017 Amateur Championship: –

A Short History of The Amateur

The Amateur Championship was first played in April 1885 at Royal Liverpool G.C. Allan Macfie (SCO) was the first champion beating Horace Hutchinson (ENG) 7&6 in the Final.

Up until the Second World War it was a hugely prestigious event and in many of these early years was afforded a much higher standing in the game than The Open. Players like Johnny Ball (ENG), Harold Hilton (ENG) and Freddie Tait (SCO) were all amateurs and as good if not better than most of the professionals of the day.

With only modest rewards available in the professional game many of the better players simply stayed amateur. The great American Bobby Jones, who won The Amateur in 1930 on the way to his Grand Slam, remains the most well known career amateur.

Even after the war players remained amateur for much longer and famous names like Frank Stranahan (USA), Joe Carr (IRE), Sir Michael Bonallack (ENG) and Peter McEvoy (ENG) all built their reputations on Amateur Championship wins.

With the growth and transformation of the professional game from the early 1980s onwards both the better players and the media increasingly started to turn their backs on the amateur game.

Save for exceptional cases like Gary Wolstenholme (ENG) all continuity has been lost over the last 30 years and most of the young golfing stars of today rarely play any more than 2 or 3 Amateurs before being lured into the pro ranks by the huge rewards on offer.

Past Winners

The greatest player in the history of The Amateur is Johnny Ball. The Hoylake man won the Championship a record 8 times between 1888 and 1912.

Only three other players have won the competition more than twice; Sir Michael Bonallack (5), Harold Hilton (4) and Joe Carr (3). Bonallack amazingly won it three years in a row between 1968-1970. The last person to retain The Amateur was Peter McEvoy in 1977 and ’78.

Prior to Ellis’ win in 2017 the last 10 winners of The Amateur Championship have been: –

2016  Scott Gregory (ENG) – Royal Porthcawl GC
2015  Romain Langasque (FRA) – Carnoustie GL
2014  Bradley Neil (SCO) – Royal Portrush GC
2013  Garrick Porteous (ENG) – Royal Cinque Ports GC
2012  Alan Dunbar (IRE) – Royal Troon GC
2011  Bryden Macpherson (AUS) – Hillside GC
2010  Jin Jeong (KOR) – Muirfield
2009  Matteo Manassero (ITA) – Formby GC
2008  Reinier Sexton (NED) – Trump Tunberry
2007  Drew Weaver (USA) – Royal Lytham & St. Annes GC

A great achievement and honour for all of the players listed above. However, it’s also another reminder of how incredibly tough golf is and that wins in the biggest events are no guarantee of success in the professional game.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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