Sherratt, Drakeford lead NEC Amateur

A pair of 66's has Jordan Sherratt and Geoffrey Drakeford leading the first round of the NEC Master of the Amateurs by a stroke over Kieran Pratt at Yarra Yarra Golf Club in Melbourne.

Boasting arguably the strongest amateur international field to play an Australian event, with four of the world's top-10 world ranked amateur golfers as ranked by the R&A competing, seven Australians finished the opening round inside the top-10.

Korea's Jin Jeong is presently in 4th position after a round of 69, a stroke ahead of Australia's, Tim Hardman.

Michael Williams, winner of the  2009 Jack Newton International, is certainly a player to follow this week as the Sydneysider opened with a 71 to be in outright 5th position. During last season Williams won once, collected a 3rd place finish at the Cameron Corbette Vase in Scotland and made the top-32 at the Australian Amateur.

France's and the world's number 2, Victor Dubuisson, had an opening round 72 to be in a five-way tie for 6th position along with England's Matt Haines, Ryan McCarthy, Ashley Umbers and Tarquin MacManus.

Dubuisson is the current European Amateur Champion and makes his second return to Australia after competing for France at the 2008 World Amateur Teams Championship in Adelaide. The highest ranked player competing in this tournament finds himself six behind the leaders and will need to ensure a strong second round to keep his chances alive and a strong finish should see Dubuisson reclaim the world's number 1 ranking.

Haines, a twice winner during 2009 with the Hampshire Salver and Berkhamsted Trophy, is another that will have to make a move if he is be wearing the "Green Jacket" which is awarded to the winner of the tournament following Thursday's final round.

There is a lot at stake at the NEC Masters with starts at the British Amateur, Porter Cup, the Players Amateur, the Dogwood Invitational and the Canadian Men's Amateur awarded to the winner.

Sherratt certainly knows what it is like to win a major amateur event. Last year at the Riversdale Cup in March, he dominated the field cruising to his first National Trial event title winning at 21-under-par, five shots from nearest rival and defending champion, Scott Arnold.

The South Australian then went onto win his first international title at the Barrett Amateur in Canada and later posted a 3rd place finish at the Asian Amateur after leading the field during the second round of the tournament.

Today's round was the perfect start for Sherratt and he's certainly capable of running away with another victory in the fashion that he did at last year's Riversdale Cup.

Others will be trying to rain on Sherratt's parade, particularly the likes of the inform Kieran Pratt who is off three recent amateur victories from three starts with the Dunes Medal, Victorian Amateur Stroke and Victorian Amateur Championship, not to mention the internationals with Dubuisson, Haines and USA's Morgan Hoffman all within striking distance of Sherratt.

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