SEVEN members of the England Golf’s performance squads are travelling to Australia in the New Year, to kick off their 2020 amateur golf season.
Five of the men’s squad and two from the women’s team are heading down under for four top-class tournaments in January.
Northamptonshire County’s Ben Jones and Callum Farr, Yorkshire’s Ben Schmidt, Tom Plumb, from Somerset, and Northumberland’s Matty Lamb will spearhead the men’s challenge.
Cornwall’s Emily Toy – the reigning Women’s Amateur champion – and Yorkshire’s Charlotte Heath will lead the way for the women.
A month of competition starts with the Master of the Amateur tournament at the Victoria Golf Club near Melbourne, between January 7-10.
The England players will then travel on for the Australian Amateur, at Royal Queensland, from January 14-19.
The New South Wales Amateur follows immediately at St Michael’s Golf Club and the Coast Golf Club, in Little Bay.
The month ends with the Avondale Amateur at Avondale Golf Club, from January 28-31.
Yorkshire teenager Schmidt is the most decorated of the England Golf’s men’s party, having broken the record as the youngest-ever winner of the Brabazon and Carris Trophy double in the same season, at just 16, in July.
Jones reached the semi-final of The Amateur Championship at Portmarnock, in June, but missed out on a Walker Cup appearance at Royal Liverpool, in September.
Yeovil’s Tom Plumb did play for Great Britain and Ireland at Hoylake, where the USA regained the Walker Cup.
The 20-year-old, who won the South West Counties Amateur Championship back in June, was also crowned Cape Province Open winner in March. He has been an England international at men’s and boys level since 2015.
Hampshire Hog winner Lamb, who made his debut in the English Home Internationals alongside Schmidt, Plumb, Jones and Farr, who lost in the final of the English Amateur to Stoke Park’s Conor Gough, in August.
England’s successes Down Under – from Victorian Michael Scott to Scott Gregory
THE Australian Amateur dates back to 1894 – a year before the US Amateur was founded.
That makes it the fourth oldest national championship in the amateur world behind New Zealand (1893), South Africa (1892) and the R&A Amateur (1885).
Gloucestershire’s former Winchester College student Michael Scott, who emigrated to Australia at the start of the 20th Century, won the Australian Amateur four times between 1905 and 1911.
Scott also took the amateur honours at the inaugural Australian Open title in 1904, and won again in 1907 – beating both the professionals and the amateurs in the field by some seven shots.
The son of the Earl of Eldon also won seven Victoria Amateur state titles before returning to Europe to fight in the First World War.
Scott, whose sister Lady Margaret Scott who won the first three Women’s Amateur Championships, won two French Amateur titles in 1912 and 1922.
He made his Walker Cup debut in 1924, at New York’s Garden City Golf Club.
The Royal St George’s captain became the oldest player to appear in the Walker Cup when he also captained the Great Britain and Ireland team at St Andrews, in 1934, at the age of 55 – having become the oldest winner of The Amateur Championship a year earlier.
The only English winner Down Under in post-war times was Middlesex’s Warren Bennett – the Ealing man was crowned in 1994 – the Scots have a better record with Connor Syme winning in 2016, while Eric Ramsay won at Royal Melbourne, in 2005, and Jack Doherty at Mount Lawley in 2003.
But the English have fared better in the 36-hole strokeplay qualifier – at one point given the title of Australian Amateur Strokeplay Champion but now known as the Australian Amateur Medallist.
Danny Willett took that Strokeplay title in 2008 – preceded by Andrew Dodt and Jason Day (2006), while Wellingborough’s Ryan Evans took the prize in 2014 – followed a year later by Huddersfield’s Nick Marsh, six months after he beat Hampshire’s Scott Gregory in the English Amateur final at Saunton.
Australian Blake Windred claimed the Avondale in 2018 and 2019 and turned pro earlier this year. He was third Australian to win the Avondale back-to-back since its founding in 2006.
The last Englishman to claim the title in New South Wales was Evans in 2014 that marked a memorable month Down Under for Evans and England Golf.
Woburn’s Steve Lewton, who went on to play on the European Challenge and Asian Tours, was the second ever winner in 2007, followed by Coventry’s Matt Cryer a year later.
The Corhampton player – who headed England Golf’s party that year – also featured in the Master of the Amateur tournament and met Open Champion legend Peter Thompson during a practice round.
The Australian, who lifted the Claret Jug three years’ running in the mid-1950s – and five times in total between 1954 and 1965 – died in June 2018.
Staffordshire’s Gian-Marco Petrozzi claimed the NSW title in 2018. Previous English winners include Formby’s Paul Howard (2015), Hexham’s Jack Senior (2011) and Gary Wolstenholme (2007).
The New South Wales dates back to 1898 – the most famous champion was New Zealand’s Michael Campbell, the winner in 1992, who went on to win the US Open in 2005 at Pinehurst.
•For more information about the amateur events England Golf’s party will play in Australia, in January, visit www.golf.org.au