Dunes Medal winners Grace Kim and Blake Collyer (Blake Collyer/Twitter photo)
It’s approaching summer on the other side of the world, which accounts for so many golf headlines out of Australia. A fair share of those headlines have belonged to amateur players, from breaking records to performing well in pro events to racking up titles.
An earlier AmateurGolf.com notebook included a deeper look at what makes Golf Australia’s amateur program so successful
. And so, with little amateur golf being played stateside this time of year, here’s a catch-up on the names and stories you should know from the past six weeks of golf in Australia:
Blake Collyer authors confident repeat at Dunes Medal
Collyer’s name first caught our attention in the thick of our own amateur summer. The 21-year-old had battled his way to the match-play final at the W.E. Cole Cotton States Invitational, an event in which he’d reached the semifinals in 2016.
Collyer seemed to be playing catch-up for most of the front nine. He went 1 down when opponent Paul Gonzalez birdied the second hole but made up for it with a birdie at No. 3. Bogeys at Nos. 6 and 9 also cost him.
The real heroics came at the par-3 15th, however. Collyer made an ace to go 3 up and dormie. A birdie at the par-5 16th sealed the championship, even though Gonzalez matched him there. Collyer effectively played the back nine in 6 under, and it earned him the victory.
Fast forward to the fall, when the Australian headed back to his side of the world. He was runner-up at the Queensland Amateur in August, T-7 at the Mandurah Amateur, then tied for 27th at the Nexus Risk Services WA Open, a professional event. The next week, he was T-12 at the New South Wales Open, another pro event.
Collyer’s latest eye-catching feat? A title defense at the Dunes Medal
, a 72-hole stroke-play event the Dunes Golf Club.
Get to know Grace Kim
Alongside Collyer, Kim also made headlines at the Dunes Medal for winning the women’s division. It’s the third recent major amateur victory for Kim after winning gold in the Youth Olympics in October and also winning the Federal Open Amateur earlier in November.
Kim was on Australia’s three-woman squad for the World Amateur Team Championship. She was runner-up at the Australian Girls’ Amateur. Her accolades could go on and on, but she’s one to keep on the radar.
Zach Murray wins professional event
Murray’s amateur victory in a field of professionals
at the Nexus Risk Services WA Open can be framed in a couple of different ways.
First, there’s the fact that he had a four-shot lead on No. 18 tee and won by two. There’s also the fact that his closest pursuer was another amateur – Australian teammate David Micheluzzi. Finally, there’s the realization that this isn’t even all that unusual. Murray was the third amateur in the past seven years to win the event (behind Oliver Goss in 2012 and Curtis Luck in 2016).
Murray went professional two weeks later at the Australian Open, though he missed the cut. As an amateur, we saw him reach the Round of 16 in both the U.S. Amateur at the Australian Men’s Amateur. He was T-21 at the Asia-Pacific Amateur.
“I always wanted to turn professional when I was playing my best golf, so it seems like a pretty good time right now,” Murray told Golf Australia as he prepared to play the Australian Open for the fifth time in his career.
David Micheluzzi keeps showing up
Micheluzzi is still flying the amateur flag. After his runner-up at the WA Open, Micheluzzi also entered the Australian Open. He scored another top-5 finish, tying for low amateur honors with Japan’s Keita Nakajima. It was Micheluzzi’s debut in the event.
It has been a breakthrough year for Micheluzzi, who won the Australian Master of the Amateurs championship early in the year and backed it up with a runner-up finish in the Australian Amateur. He was also a quarterfinalist in the British Amateur.
Then there’s this tidbit, from Golf Australia: When the World Cup of Golf was played at his home course of Metropolitan Golf Club two weeks ago, Micheluzzi offered advice for Team Australia members Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith.
“He helped us with that, just showing us where's fine, where's not fine,” Leishman told Golf Australia. “Yeah, it was good of him to come out and hopefully, that will pay off at the end of the week."
Min Woo Lee charting another path
Meanwhile, in the U.S., Min Woo Lee, the highest-ranked Aussie in the World Amateur Golf Ranking at No. 7, was one of three amateurs to advance to the final stage of Web.com Tour Qualifying.
Lee won the South Australia Amateur already this season, and more recently had top-10 finishes at the Sahalee Players and Men’s World Amateur Team Championship.
In other Lee news, Min Woo’s older sister Minjee, a four-time winner on the LPGA tour, recently become the first female to win the Greg Norman Medal, the most prestigious honor in Australian golf.
Not to be outdone, Australian Robyn Choi
, who plays college golf for Colorado, already earned her LPGA card for the 2019 season at the eight-round LPGA Q-Series.
While professional events seem to be garnering the most news this time of year, a few major Australian amateur events will be played once the calendar flips to 2019.
The Australian Master of the Amateurs
will be played Jan. 8-11 at Royal Melbourne while the Australian Men’s Amateur
and Women’s Amateur
will be played Jan. 15-20 at Woodlands Golf Club, also in Melbourne.
• • •
THE GANG’S ALL CLEAR
: Palmer Cup hype for 2019 started before Thanksgiving with the announcement of the four head coaches who would lead both the U.S. and International squad when the matches are played at the Alotian Club in Roland, Ark., this June.
Find that news here
The Golf Coaches Association of America followed up that announcement on Nov. 26 by revealing the four assistant coaches who will also help guide the 48 collegians who take part in the event.
Lauren Dobashi, women’s associate head coach at Stanford, and Corey Maggard, associate head coach for Auburn’s men, were named to the U.S. coaching roster. The internationals will receive guidance from Ria Quiazon Scott, head women’s coach at Virginia and a native of the Philippines, and Robert Duck, an Englishman who serves as the assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s programs at Florida State.
• • •
The annual Golf Coaches Association of American is underway this week in Las Vegas. Interestingly, the opening day featured a nearly four-hour session on Rules of Golf changes coming in 2019. More than 600 coaches attended the session.
Other notable items on the week’s agenda include awards presentations from PGA President Suzy Whaley, an address from PGA Tour winner Jim Herman and the fifth annual Golfweek
Coaches Forum featuring Oklahoma State’s Alan Bratton, Arizona’s Laura Ianello, Vanderbilt’s Scott Limbaugh of and Arkansas’ Shauna Taylor.
• • •
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
With the passing of former president George H.W. Bush on Nov. 30, many prominent players and writers in the golf world remembered stories of Bush’s legacy in golf.
If you read one piece about Bush’s contributions to golf, make it this one published by the USGA.
History and nobility aside, our favorite detail about Bush’s involvement in golf was his penchant for quick play. Thus, this quote remembered by Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson:
• • •
TWEET OF THE WEEK
: The TGA showing some real cold-weather ingenuity
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ARE YOU READING?
Our top-25 countdown of the best amateur storylines of the year is heating up. Make sure you’re keeping track.