Dogwood kicks off Aussie US Swing

The Dogwood Invitational, ranked as the 16th best amateur tournament in the US and the 27th-best worldwide by the Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings will see six Australians and a New Zealander competing for this prestigious title.

Current British Amateur champion, Bryden Macpherson will spearhead the Australian challenge along with Daniel Bringolf, Maverick Antcliff, Brett Drewitt, Kalem Richardson, and Todd Sinnott. Mathew Perry, the 2011 New Zealand Amateur Champion, will fly the Kiwi flag in Atlanta, Georgia.

It will be the first occasion in a major US amateur event this season that a full Australasian contingent lines up to battle the Americans. With a tradition that dates back to 1941, the Dogwood Invitational is one of the prized American amateur majors on tour as reflected in its world amateur ranking.

Macpherson last year in this event finished a creditable 3rd after carding rounds of 72-69-64-68 to finish at 15-under-par, four strokes behind eventual winner, American, Andrew Yun.

The US based Macpherson will be closely checking his score card this week after a mishap during the third round of last week's Northeast Amateur where the Aussie was disqualified for signing a wrong score card.

With the momentum of his history breaking British Amateur win to become the first Australian in 57 years to win the title, Macpherson has established himself as one of the world's best amateurs and will certainly challenge the 80 strong field this week at Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta.

The Dogwood represents Brett Drewitt's and Kalem Richardson's first US season hit out.

Drewitt opened well at the British Amateur stroke play only to see a loose second round damage his chances of progressing to the match play qualification series. With a win last month at the Golf SA Classic and some solid rounds during his recent UK campaign, the 2010 Pacific Northwest Amateur champion will be eager to make his mark in the US early.

The Australians will have their work cut out for them as the field this week includes a number of notables, including Georgia's Russell Henley.

Henley shared low amateur honours at last year's US Open. This season the world number 2 captured a Nationwide Tour event at the Stadion Classic, just the second amateur to post a winning score on that circuit. Henley was runner-up in this event in 2009 and brings some stellar form into the tournament.

He was on the leader board of this year's US Open as late as Saturday's third round, and finished as the second-lowest amateur.

Henley recently was named as a collegiate All-America selection and is a team mate with Macpherson at Georgia, who were narrowly defeated by Augusta at the recent NCAA finals at Karsten Creek in Stillwater Oklahoma in early June.

Like most of the top-flight amateurs in this US this season the Dogwood kicks off their season, which in Henley's case includes the Porter Cup, Western Amateur and US Amateur as he tries to secure a Walker Cup berth for that September event.

Other notables include Emiliano Grillo, a 17-year-old who was first alternate at the US Open and Class AAAAA champion Sepp Straka of Lowndes.

Adam Scott had a shot at the Dogwood title as an amateur as did Andrew Buckle, who won the Dogwood Invitational in 2002 to become the first and only Australian so far to claim the title. Asian Tour player, Rick Kulacz, has been one of the better Aussies performers in recent times, finishing 4th in 2006. Past participants include Charles Howell III, Ryuji Imada, Dustin Johnson, and Bryce Molder, among others.

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