Nathan Holman, a 20-year-old
Australian who had to qualify for the
tournament, won the Master of the
Amateurs Championship on the West
Course at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
Holman, who grabbed the lead after
the second round, took a five-shot lead
into the final round, and that turned out
to be the final margin of victory. Holman closed with a 2-under-par 70 and
posted a total of 278, 10-under par.
Holman, ranked No. 249 in the
world, won the 2011 Riversdale Cup and
previously won the Victorian Amateur
title. He is a member of the Victorian
Institute of Sport and plays his golf locally in Melbourne at The Woodlands.
He opened with a 67, and shot a
heroic even-par 72 in the wild conditions that impacted play in the second
round. Holman took command of the
tournament by shooting a 3-under 69 in
the third round, giving him a comfortable lead entering the final day.
Runner-up Queenslander Daniel
Nisbet, tied for second with Ben Campbell after 54 holes, started strongly in
the final round with five birdies and two
pars before faltering on the eighth. A
triple-bogey seven with all his problems on the green, saw his title chances fall away. Nisbet recovered with a
strong back nine, finishing 2 under for
the day. Campbell finished third, seven
shots back. American Kelly Kraft, the
world’s No. 5 amateur, was a further
two shots back.
With this, the biggest win of his
amateur career, Holman receives an
exemption into the Amateur Champion-
ship next June at Royal Troon. He also
is exempt for the Canadian Amateur, as
well as The Players Amateur, the Dog-
wood Invitational and the Porter Cup,
all played in America next summer.
This year’s 54-man field for the Master
of the Amateurs seemed to be a bit
down in quality. Just four players in
the top 20 in the world chose to compete and only five Americans made the
trip and only three United Kingdom
The English National Team, which
played last year, was absent. In fact, no
national team made the effort to play.
And unlike in past years, no one represented Italy or Korea.
Participation was an issue close to
home as well. Aussie teen sensation
Jake Higginbottom, now ranked No.
15 in the world, passed on the event to
try to qualify for the Open Championship next July. The International final
qualifying event for Australia took
place January 10-11 at Kingston Heath
GC in Melbourne; Higginbottom did not
old West Course record of 63.
Seventeen-year-old West Australian
Oliver Goss shot 64 in the third round,
just one shot off the record low. He shot
30 on the back side despite losing a
ball on the 12th hole.
And then there was Tian-lang Guan.
Pre-tournament publicity featured
13-year-old Guan, positioned as the
No. 1 amateur in China based on his
World Amateur Golf Ranking of 112.
The press release vaguely compared
his 45.6 percent winning percentage
in 199 tournaments played since 2004
to Tiger Woods’ winning percentage
of 27. 36. Nonetheless, the youngster
posted four sub-80 rounds (72-78-78-
74) and finished 34th.
Mills were undaunted, posting under-par rounds despite the conditions that
brought summer snow to the Australian
Alps and caused havoc around the city.
Holman’s even-par round that day may
well have won him the tournament.
The second round was a wild one.
Lashing rain and howling winds resulted in a three-and-a-half-hour delay,
and once play resumed, players had to
contend with gusty blasts. Tasmanian
Ryan McCarthy and American Corbin
Youth was served, however briefly,
in Melbourne last week. Sixteen-year-old D.J. Loypur, from the Yarra Valley,
claimed the first round lead with a
6-under-par 66. He made five birdies in
breezy conditions on the front nine but
a double-bogey at the par- 3 13th held
him back from challenging the 50-year-
Kraft, the highest-ranked amateur
in the field, made his second appearance in Australia in the past three
months. The reigning U.S. Amateur
champion, who will turn pro after The
Masters, finished as low amateur in the
Australian Open in November. He won
the inaugural South Beach International in Miami shortly before Christmas.
He plans to play the Jones Cup and
then the Georgia Cup as he prepares
for his Masters debut. He finished T4 at
Englishman Ashley Chesters, 22,
recorded his fourth career hole-in-one in
the third round on the par- 3 16th hole. l