Aus­tralian ama­teurs ex­cel in qual­i­fier

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT - EVIN PRIEST

THE fu­ture of Aus­tralian golf looks healthy with ama­teur play­ers bag­ging six of the last eight spots in the Aus­tralian Open field from Mon­day qual­i­fy­ing.

In three qual­i­fy­ing sites across Syd­ney, ama­teurs Louis Dobbe­laar, Justin Mor­ley, Har­ri­son Crowe, Hay­den Hopewell, Jack Thomp­son and Wil­liam Bayliss se­cured the 11th-hour ex­emp­tions into the 144-man Open.

Queens­land’s Dobbe­laar, 18, birdied the last two holes for a 65 to lead the three qual­i­fiers at Carnar­von Golf Club.

Club pro­fes­sional An­thony Choat (68) and Syd­ney’s Crowe (68) were the two other qual­i­fiers from Carnar­von.

Dobbe­laar’s tal­ent has been nur­tured re­cently by Cameron Smith, an Aus­tralian star on the US PGA Tour, with the pair coached by Queens­land guru Grant Field. Smith has flown Dobbe­laar to Florida to prac­tise with him as part of Smith’s schol­ar­ship.

“It feels sur­real,” Dobbe­laar said. “It’ll be an awe­some week. There’s some re­ally good names out there, so it’ll be great to be amongst them. “I re­mem­ber watch­ing it (the Open) as a kid and to be play­ing in it is pretty spe­cial.”

Promising Western Aus­tralian ama­teur Hopewell shot 65 at Glen­more Her­itage Val­ley to qual­ify along­side Ade­laide’s Thomp­son and teach­ing pro Michael Smyth.

The third qual­i­fy­ing site was Ryde-Par­ra­matta, with ama­teurs Mor­ley and Bayliss se­cur­ing the two Open spots played with 71s.

The qual­i­fiers will tee off to­mor­row at the 104th Aus­tralian Open, which will boast one of the strong­est fields in eight years.

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