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Tree Continues To Climb Amateur Rungs

by Colin Callander - February 18, 2013

England’s Toby Tree continued his fast start to the 2013 season when he led the GB&I challengers in the individual event at the recent Ten Nations Cup at Kingswood Golf Club in South Africa.

The 19-year-old from Worthing started his 2013 campaign by defending his title at the Guateng North Open at Wingate Park and maintained his promising early season form with rounds of 69, 71, 67 and 68 to finish tied fourth behind Australia’s Brady Watt in the individual event at Kingswood.

Tree’s effort also enabled England to finish third behind Australia and New Zealand in the concurrent team contest.

The English teenager’s 13-under-par total of 275 saw him finish three shots ahead of compatriot Max Orrin and Scotland’s Graeme Robertson, who shared sixth place with South Africa’s Louis Taylor and Argentina’s Jamie Lopez Rivarola on 278. Scotland’s James White was 10th on 279 while further down the list, England’s Jamie Rutherford was tied 11th (280), Scotland’s Fraser McKenna was tied 20th (285), Ireland’s Chris Selfridge, Harry Diamond and Reeve Whitson were tied 21st, 23rd and 24th (on 286, 287 and 289), England’s Josh White was 27th (291), Ireland’s Richard O’Donovan was 33rd (300) and Scotland’s Ross Bell came 34th one shot further behind.

In the team event Scotland were fifth and Ireland eighth. Wales pulled out of the event before the start.

South African No. 1 Hadyn Porteous created a major slice of history when he defended the title at the South African Amateur Stroke Play Championship, played at the Hyatt Regency Oubaii Golf Resort and Spa.

Porteous put together rounds of 69, 67, 70 and 69 to finish two shots ahead of compatriot, Werner Ferreira, on 11-under-par 277. He became the first man to retain the title since David Suddards back in 1978-79.

Scotland’s Ewan Scott maintained his own promising start to the season after finishing tied fourth alongside Ireland’s Dermot McElroy on 8-under-par 280. Scott, from St Andrews, started the season with a fifth place finish behind Australian, Viraat Badhwar at the prestigious Australian Master of the Amateurs event at Royal Melbourne and then teamed up with compatriot Bradley Neil, England’s Gloria Hall and Chloe Williams from Wales to win a gold medal in the team event at the Australian Youth Olympics Festival in Sydney.

Orrin closed with a 1-under-par 71 to claim a share of eighth place on 284 while compatriot, White, and Ireland’s Whitson were tied 10th one shot further back. Other leading GB&I finishers were Tree (15th), Selfridge and Gary Hurley (both T-16), Diamond (T-22), Nicky Grant and O’Donovan (both T-25) and Adam Dunton, Rutherford and Rory McNamara (all T-29).

The leading Continental competitors were Pierre Mazier, from Racing Club de France, and Nicolas Manifacier, from Golf de Cannes, who shared 16th place.

Fifteen year-old Lydia Ko consolidated her place as the world’s No. 1 amateur when she won the recent ISPS Handa New Zealand Open at Clearwater Golf Club.

The New Zealander deserved all the headlines by claiming a new Ladies European Tour record, winning the event at the age of 15 years, 8 months and 17 days. But what her victory tended to conceal was a fine performance from 2012 English Girls’ and Irish Women’s Stroke Play champion, Emily Taylor.

Taylor turned professional after finishing second at last winter’s LET Q-school in Morocco. She missed the cut on her professional debut at the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters in Australia but bounced back with rounds of 74, 69 and 69 to finish at 212, tied ninth, six shots behind Ko in New Zealand.

The 18-year-old from Lancashire now goes onto the World Ladies Championship at Mission Hills in China where she will be joined by 2012 GB&I Curtis Cup team members Holly Clyburn and Charley Hull. They will be making their first starts of the season after missing out on places in the earlier events.

The World Ladies Championship is March 7-10, and will be of particular interest to fans of amateur golf because it will also feature appearances by Ko and Australians Minjee Lee and Su-Hyun Oh, currently second and fifth on the official Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Lee began the season with a bang when she won the Australian Amateur Championship, having also claimed the U.S. Girls’ title in 2012. Oh is also a winner this season, having beaten a strong field by 13 shots at the prestigious Lake Macquarie Women’s Championship in her homeland.

Scottish amateurs Eilidh Briggs and Kelsey MacDonald are also in the field at Mission Hills. MacDonald heads to Asia after a successful spell on the Florida Orange Blossom Tour, where she finished third in the Harder Hall Invitational and then won the Jones-Doherty Match Play Championship.

The Goling Union of Ireland has become the latest governing body to legalise the use of distance measuring devices during its national championships.

The decision comes a couple of months after the European Golf Association also sanctioned the use of DMDs in its events. Their decisions mean both fall in line with the English Golf Union, the English Women’s Golf Association, the Scottish Golf Union and the Golf Union of Wales, all having sanctioned the use of DMDs at an earlier date.

The R&A is now among the dwindling number of governing bodies who still ban the use of these devices in its competitions.

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