Amatuers make waves at the British Open
If this year's British Open has taught the golf community anything, it is that the finest amateurs in the world deserve the opportunity to compete with the big boys. An unprecedented number of amateurs made the cut this year, beating out some of the more famous competitors, such as Tiger Woods. Despite the fact that these player are not regular faces on the world circuit, they were still able to give some of golf's greats a run for their money.
Up until the beginning of the fourth round, it actually looked as though one of the amateurs, Paul Dunne, could end up winning the Claret Jug. At the end of the third round, he was tied for first place after completing three spectacular rounds. Dunne was actually the first amatuer to be in the lead of the British Open after the third round since the 1920s. Unfortunately, a 78 on his final round ruined any hope he had of taking home the Gold Medal, or even the Silver Medal.
This year's Silver Medal winner was eventually awarded to 21 year old American, Jordan Niebrugge, who finished tied for 6th position in the overall (amateurs and professionals) rankings. He is also honoured to be able to say that he was able to equal the amatuer course record of 67, which was set by Joe Carr in 1960. 67 was one of the lowest scoring rounds of the tournament, even when the professionals were taken into account.
It is worth remembering that players with amateur status are not eligible to take home a share of the prize money. Whilst an amatuer could receive the Claret Jug and the Gold Medal, he would not be allowed to take home any of the prize money which is associated with the competition. The same is true for every amateur who finds himself in a prize winning spot. The money which would otherwise have gone to those competitors is shared out amongst the rest of the field as appropriate. Ultimately, professional winner Zach Johnson ended up taking home the £1.15 million prize, but 5 amateurs did end up finishing in positions that should normally entitle competitors to a share of the overall prize money. Although they cannot benefit financially, amateurs are allowed to benefit from kit or equipment given out by sponsors. The exposure gained from winning the Silver Medal can also help an amateur to make the change from amateur to professional. Previous winners of the Silver Medal at the British Open include; Tiger Woods (1996), Rory McIlroy (2007) and José Maria Olazábal (1985).
As well as large scale tournaments such as the Open, amateurs also get to play in a wide range of other golf competitions which may not appear on your radar as frequently. In a bid to boost the popularity of amatuer golfing competitions and to celebrate the unification of the men's and women's golfing associations in Scotland, the Scottish Golf Union is to hold the finals of the Belhaven Best Scottish Club Handicap Championship at the famous Regnum Carya golf club in Belek, Turkey.