Jun 14, 2018: An international field of 288 elite men’s amateur golfers will descend on the North East of Scotland next week as The 123rd Amateur Championship takes place at Royal Aberdeen and Murcar Links for the first time.
Golfers from 38 countries across Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Americas will tee it up as they bid to become the 2018 Amateur Champion and secure a place in the field for The 147th Open at Carnoustie next month as well as a place in next year’s Masters Tournament, by tradition, and the US Open at Pebble Beach.
England’s Harry Ellis won the title last year in dramatic fashion, battling back from four holes down with five to play in the 36-hole final at Royal St George’s. Ellis is playing in the US Open this week as a result of that victory.
An impressive list of some of the leading men’s amateurs are ready to etch their name in history and grasp the career-changing opportunities that go to the winner.
One player who knows how valuable those opportunities are is the 2002 Amateur Champion Alejandro Larrazabal, who will be competing at Royal Aberdeen as a reinstated amateur. Norway’s Viktor Hovland is the highest-ranked player in the field at 5th in the World Amateur Golf RankingTM (WAGRTM). The 21-year-old plays college golf at Oklahoma State and moved into the top ten in March after winning the Valspar Collegiate.
Just behind Hovland in the ranking and also set for Aberdeen is England’s Matthew Jordan (7th). The 2017 GB&I Walker Cup player solidified his position amongst the elite of amateur golf by capturing the Lytham Trophy with a nine-shot victory at the beginning of May.
The Royal Liverpool member will be eager to make it a hat-trick of English winners and follow in the footsteps of his Walker Cup teammates Ellis and Scott Gregory, who lifted the trophy in 2016 at Royal Porthcawl.
Jordan was also recently named in a 20-man Great Britain and Ireland squad in preparation for the 2018 St Andrews Trophy match against the Continent of Europe at Linna Golf in Finland in July.
Selected alongside him and also teeing it up in The Amateur is Scotland’s Sam Locke who will look to use home advantage to become the first Scottish champion since Bradley Neil defeated Zander Lombard in the final at Royal Portrush in 2014.
Locke, the current Scottish Amateur Champion, plays out of nearby Stonehaven Golf Club and will be targeting a top finish in front of a local crowd.
Sandy Scott from Nairn returns to his homeland to play his part in Aberdeen. Progressing through a golf scholarship at Texas Tech University, the 2015 Scottish Boys Order of Merit winner qualified for the Scottish Open at Dundonald Links last July. He will be looking to go one better and book his place at The Open with a win at Royal Aberdeen come Saturday evening.
Defeated 2017 finalist Dylan Perry, who is ranked 21st in the world, returns to The Amateur Championship for another shot at the title after coming so close last year.
A strong group from the Asia-Pacific region will join Perry including top-ranked countrymen David Micheluzzi (17th) and Shae Wools-Cobb (25th). From New Zealand, Daniel Hillier (32nd) makes his first appearance in the championship after finishing tied 23rd at the New Zealand Open in March.
Ranked 36th in the world, John Pak leads the American contingent travelling to the North East of Scotland. A former Florida State teammate of current champion Ellis, Pak was recently named ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) Golfer of the Month after three top-ten finishes in collegiate events in March.
The first stage of the championship comprises two qualifying rounds of stroke play, one round on each course, before the 64 players with the lowest scores and ties for 64th place progress to the match play stage at Royal Aberdeen. Each match will consist of one round of 18 holes except the Final which will be over 36 holes.
Several Champion Golfers of the Year have played in The Amateur Championship over the years including Jack Nicklaus, Sir Nick Faldo, Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, Louis Oosthuizen, Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson. The 2017 Masters Champion Sergio Garcia won The Amateur at Muirfield in 1998.
Admission to The Amateur Championship, which is played from June 18-23, is free of charge.
Fans will be able to book a spot at Carnoustie for the return of The Open, from July 15-22, with 123 tickets available in a prize draw at Royal Aberdeen and Murcar Links. Spectators who attend The Amateur Championship will be invited to enter the draw at stations set up at both courses.