Jake Higginbottom: An emerging Talent!

Winning is something Jake Higginbottom likes and with two recent wins in as many starts, the Novocastrian is getting use to it. Last Friday during the closing round of the Keperra Bowl in Brisbane, Higginbottom held it together to win the National Selection event by a stroke over Matt Stieger. The week earlier Higginbottom secured the Queensland Amateur Championship defeating Tim Hart, 2&1 in one of the season's most impressive runs of form. Add into the mix the statistic that for every season since Higginbottom was 14 he's either won a junior event or a main amateur tournament and you appreciate the level of success Higginbottom already enjoyed as an amateur. This Australian season Higginbottom has mainly focused on the main amateur events outside the junior ranks where his prominence and what you might also start to label, dominance, in main amateur events has evolved. Winning back to back wins with the Queensland Amateur and Keperra Bowl reflects his emergence of one of our main amateur talents to recently appear on the scene with the likes of Matt Stieger, Brett Drewitt, and Cameron Smith. "I suppose that it shows that I can win both a stroke event and a match play event," where Higginbottom's immediate comments regarding his wins after Keperra. "I've been working hard with my coach Gary Barter at The Australian. It's all coming to gather and coming together at the right time so it seems." Judging by Higginbottom's imposing 6-foot plus frame and the Ernie Els like smooth swing, the game appears to come easy for the world number 39. Higginbotton is a holder of both the New South Wales and Queensland Amateur crowns as well as an international title, the 2010 China Amateur Open. This impressive list doesn't even include the considerable success he's achieved as a junior. Originally from the Newcastle region, Higginbottom plays out of The Australian Golf Club in Sydney under an Australian Golf Club Foundation Scholarship. As a 15-year-old Higginbottom qualified for the NSW Open and in 2006 he won his age group in all 25 Jack Newton Junior tournaments he played. Introduced to the game by his father, Bruce, at nine Higginbottom was playing off a handicap of 27. By twelve he was off 4 and now holds a plus-3 handicap. At just 13-years-old he shot an impressive 8-under-par, 64 around Waratah Golf Club to win the Lake Macquarie Junior Classic.
"This is probably my third year out with playing golf seriously," says Higginbottom, who elected to leave school following completing year 10 studies to focus on a playing career. "My life is golf," he says. "I love winning and love working hard towards winning. I made a few mistakes over the closing holes at Keperra with some bogeys, but you learn from that." Higginbottom is quick to contribute his recent fine run to his coach, Gary Barter. "I've done an awful lot with Gary in preparation for these events and with moving forward," says Higginbottom. "After Keperra this week I'm flying to compete in the Handa Junior Masters in Perth, then will go to play in the Thunderbird International in Arizona. These two wins here in Queensland shows that we're on the right track with what Gary and I have worked on." The recent success in Queensland add to Higginbottom's fine list of achievements which are not one-off's by any stretch of the imagination. It was only last year when Higginbottom powered to his biggest amateur career title at the time by defeating Walker Cupper, Tommy Fleetwood, 3&2, to win the New South Wales Amateur title at Royal Sydney. At the time the Englishman was considered the hot favourite to take out the title having been a finalist at the 2008 British Amateur Championship, had won the 2009 Scottish Open Amateur and was a quarter-finalist at the 2009 British Amateur. In comparison Higginbottom was focusing upon junior events locally and his name was virtually unknown within the main world amateur ranks. "That was a big win against Fleetwood," says Higginbottom. "That and the win I had in China after. I guess it shows that I can compete against the best in the world and win." For the immediate future Higginbottom wants to make more national teams and broaden his international exposure. "I want to make more Australian teams moving forward," he says. "I played in the Trans-Tasman as well as the Ashes Series back in March and enjoyed every bit of it. My goals as to try and get into more national teams in the future. Next year also I plan to play the main American events and hopefully win up there as well." Higginbottom is a name we will be hearing and reading about more in the future. With another year remaining in the junior ranks, the 17-year old is finding his footing already in main amateur tournaments. Two wins this season, a win last season are testament to his talent and it's already sent a stern message throughout the Australian amateur ranks that he's a force to be reckon with, even if Higginbottom is still considered foolishly by many a junior.

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