Who then is the likely contender to be holding the prized national title come Wednesday next week?
With the depth of the filed that's assembled in Western Australia, anything is and probably will happen. That's simply the nature of national tournaments of this nature, which are more a reflection of survival of fittest than anything else. However, I tend to favour the locals in Jason Scrivener and Australia's highest ranked world amateur, Matt Jager.
Jager and Scrivener are both due big wins.
Scrivener played peerless golf around a spruced up layout earlier in the year during The Australian Cup, winning in a play-off against the in-form, Kieran Pratt. Scrivener's patience and ability to remain focused on a difficult layout is a key attribute that all former Australian Amateur title holders have possess and his approach towards recently to these bigger tournaments with controlled aggression, reminds me very much of the likes of Tim Stewart when he won this event back in 2006 at Royal Hobart.
Scrivener won the 2007 Australian Junior Amateur title and certainly posses the game and talent to take this main title out.
Jager is seeking his first Australian Amateur title to add to his 2009 New Zealand Amateur Championship and starts this championship as a strong favourite.
Jager played well recently in professional events, making the cut on the Nationwide Co-sanctioned New Zealand Open in Queenstown, and has also performed well in Australian professional Tour events. He's a player that can blast a field away early and leave them chasing in his wake, as we have seen previously with his dual Federal Amateur wins and at the New Zealand Amateur last year.
Jager's aggression off the tee will reward benefits around the Mt Lawley layout and I'll be expecting a low round within the four round stroke qualification to be carded from arguably one of Australia's most promising amateur talents.
In considering other possible challenges to this tournament, you cannot go without recognising the efforts recently of Jin Jeong.
Jeong won the rain disrupted Riversdale Cup with a 14-under-par total in a solid display of golf under horrendous conditions at Riversdale, in what is effectively the prelude to the Australian Amateur Championship. A few week's earlier the 20-year-old South Korean native won the Tasmanian Open title. I favour his chances in Perth, especially should Jeong progress through the 72 hole stroke component of this championship and be positioned favourably in the match play draw.
Bryden Macpherson, winner of the 2009 Australian and New Zealand Amateur Stroke Play titles, has returned from the US collegiate system to play in Perth. A majestic striker of the ball, Macpherson's agility to adapt to courses will see the Victorian do well in this championship. I would not be surprised to see him replacing Scott Arnold as the next Australian Amateur Champion. Macpherson has flair, poise, as well as the necessary cockiness to take this event fully out. He'll certainly take some stopping.
If there is an amateur lately that impresses me the most, with both discipline and control in a tournament, it is Kieran Pratt.
Pratt is already a multiple winner this Australian summer and his performance at the Lake Macquarie Amateur, where he left the rest of the field in his wake with a 21-under-par total, for a massive eleven stroke victory over Brendan Smith and in the process securing the tournament record previously set at 20-under by Peter O'Malley and Danny Lee, was simply impressive.
Pratt's game has gone from strength to strength in recent years and the Victorian featured strongly last year in this event at Royal Queensland. Pratt is ready to elevate himself to the world amateur golfing stage and Perth represents the perfect platform for him. He is "danger" all the way in Perth this week.
Jordan Sherratt, winner at the 2010 Riversdale Cup is another that should not be discounted, as is also Daniel Beckmann, runner-up to Scott Arnold in this event last year. Sherratt can be streaky and if he can get his consistency going during the four-round stroke medal event, his confidence will be ready for the match-play segment of the championship proper and he'll take some stopping. Beckmann is simply all class at this level and anything is possible should his game be on song.
My "dark horses" for this event are Sydney's, Michael Williams, Scotland's, Fraser Fotheringham and the big hitting Victorian, Luke Bleumink.
Williams in his short time in the main amateur events has been impressive winning the the NSW Amateur Stroke and has featured strongly in other main Australian Amateur events. Last October, Williams won the Jack Newton International Junior Classic at The Oaks Golf Club in Cessnock. Two year's ago he also won the NSW State Age championship as a 17-year-old and has twice made the cut at the NSW Open.
Fotheringham, 18, was runner-up at the 2007 British Boy's Amateur is another young talent to recently emerge onto the scene. Bleumink, the 2008 Victorian Amateur champion, is due for another main amateur title and during his 2009 US campaign exhibited some stellar form, particularly at the Players Amateur in Bluffton, South Carolina, where he finished 6th.
As to who will win this year's Australian Amateur championship is anyones guess. That's the uniqueness of this event where four stroke rounds sets the scene for the top-32 players to battle in elimination stroke play. It will be a true contest against plenty of likely contenders, yet you tend to favour that experience will count and either Jager, Scrivener, Pratt, Sherratt or Macpherson will certainly be in there with a real chance to gain another title next Wednesday.
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