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Australian Master of Amateurs attracts game's best

Victorian David Micheluzzi is the defending champion. (Photo: Bruce Young)
The Australian Master of the Amateurs has developed into one of Australia’s and the world’s leading amateur golf events and the field assembled at Royal Melbourne Golf Club ahead of Tuesday's opening round reflects that.

First played in 1997, the Master of the Amateurs boasts an honour roll including Jason Day, Brendan Jones and more recently Aaron Wise, all of whom have gone on to successful professional careers, Day in particular.

Other leading figures of the current game such as Rickie Fowler, Bryson DeChambeau, Tommy Fleetwood, Russell Henley and Andy Sullivan have played the event prior to joining the paid ranks.

This year world number one amateur Justin Suh from California joins the field and brings some outstanding form from a successful collegiate career at the University of Southern California.

The 4th highest world ranked amateur and second highest ranked in this field, Matthew Wolff, is in arguably even better form than Suh, the sophomore at Oklahoma State having won his last three world ranking events.

An unusual but effective technique has seen Wolff finish off the first half of the 2018 / 2019 season undefeated in collegiate events and he is considered by many to be the hottest prospect in collegiate golf.

Another who is expected to do well is Japan’s Keita Nakajima, the current Australian Amateur Champion, who was runner-up at the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship in Singapore in October and then produced a stunning effort when 5th behind Abraham Ancer at the Australian Open in November.

Japan's Keita Nakajima - the current Australian Amateur Champion and 5th at the Australian Open.

Australia’s leading hope is the defending champion David Micheluzzi whose form in 2018 saw him elevate his standing in the game with a victory in this event, a runner-up finish at the Australian Amateur Championship to Nakajima, a runner-up finish at the Australasian Tour’s WA Open and an impressive 5th place finish at the Australian Open.

With the recent conversion to the professional ranks of the likes of Dylan Perry, Shae Wools Cobb and Zach Murray, other leading Australians include Blake Windred and Jack Thompson, while the New Zealand flag will be flown proudly by one of their best amateurs in recent years Daniel Hillier.

For the second year the Masters of Amateurs has included women into their field, the inaugural Australian Women’s Master of the Amateurs in 2018 won by Japan’s Yuka Yasuda who is back to defend her title.

Australia’s best is expected to be Grace Kim who recently won the Annika Sorenstam Series event in Wellington in New Zealand.

Grace Kim - the recent winner of the Annika Sorenstam event in NZ

78 men and 48 women make up the respective fields for the events to be played over 72 holes.

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