As New South Wales hits school holidays, the adidas Junior 6s Tour gets back to business with circuit founder Ewan Porter back on deck after a commentary stint in the United States.
Playing two separate events over consecutive days in Sydney (Monday and Tuesday), the Tour sees the return of some of the points race leaders, who find themselves in good form as they take to a regular Australian Open venue and a favourite courses of many locals of the city’s one of the Northern Beaches.
And there is plenty to play for as the Tour heads towards the World Final to be held at co-host of this year’s Australian Opens Kingston Heath on September 12. A minimum 10 Tour exemptions to be given out at the conclusion of the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) event, including two overseas, as Porter and his team work toward expanding the circuit in 2023.
COURSES: Ranked N0.14 in the country by Golf Australia magazine in 2022, The Lakes is a familiar venue for many golf fans due to its regular place as the site of the men’s Australian Open over the years.
So too is Porter familiar with the Eastlakes venue having been a member for a large part of his younger life, with the players set to be challenged by the regular interruption of the fairways by water on the clubhouse paddock. Expansive bunkering also plays its role, so too the large and undulating greens that offer many pin positions and put an emphasis on approach play.
RIGHT: Tara Raj has made the trip over from New Zealand for this week's events. PHOTOS: Supplied (right), Kurtogram (top).
Hosting Monday’s event, The Lakes underwent a redesign at the hands of Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Clayton, Mike Cocking and Ashley Mead (OCCM) in 2009, with the back nine offering some key holes that can make or break a players round.
The short par-4 is always a talking point at The Lakes, with golfers going at the green often confounded as they chip from one side to the other, with a conservative play off the tee and a good wedge often the smartest play. The par-5 next offers a genuine birdie chance for players of this quality, and the par-3 18th provides a stern test with the members watching on from the clubhouse.
Welcoming the Tour on Tuesday, Cromer Golf Club will offer a completely different test for the juniors than what they will experience at The Lakes the day prior.
Nestled in bushland near Narrabeen Lagoon, the tree-lined fairways place a premium on accuracy, while large bunkers dotted throughout and a creek that meanders throughout the property create strategy.
Redesigned by James Wilcher, the course tips out at nearly 6,000 metres and like the previous day’s host finishes on a par-3 that measures 161 metres.
FORMAT: The competitors will play 18 holes of stroke play, with points on the year-long race awarded to a number of players, and the top boys and girls finishers to go head-to-head in a six-hole match for the title and additional points.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The boys points race leader, Jeffrey Guan, will look to extend his lead at the top as he arrives in a rich vein of form.
Guan won the NSW Schoolboys last week, the victory coming after his share of sixth place at the WA Open on the PGA Tour of Australasia last month.
The winner of the NSW Schoolgirls, Grace Lee is also in the field this week. Lee like Guan leads her respective points race but has some serious challengers for the girls titles over the coming days.
Tara Raj has made the trip over from New Zealand after she won the girls strokeplay at the first ever adidas Junior 6s Tour event played outside Australia at Royal Wellington.
Raj currently sits in third on the Order of Merit and knows the opportunities on offer at the end of the year are worth the journey across the ditch.
Sitting in fifth on the points list, Brielle Mapanao has won twice on the circuit this season and mixed with the pros earlier this year, making multiple cuts on the WPGA Tour.
Challenging Guan’s supremacy will be Will Moody who was second at Rosebud earlier this year and finished runner-up to the top seed at the Schoolboys last week, while Avondale member and plus handicapper Declan O’Donovan has been anointed a player to keep an eye on this week by Porter.