Bryden Macpherson of Australia will face Scotland’s Michael Stewart in the final of the 2011 British Amateur on Saturday at Hillside Golf Club. At stake is the Amateur Championship Trophy, a place in the British Open Championship at Royal St. George’s next month and an invitation to the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National.
On Friday, Melbourne’s Macpherson, whose grandfather competed against Doug Bachli, the last Australian to win the Amateur, in 1954, completed a commanding semifinal 4&3 victory over Greg Paterson of Scotland in which he did not lose a hole. Earlier in the day, Macpherson had defeated Spaniard Antonio Hortal 2&1 in the third quarterfinal.
“I’m very happy! It was really tough today…but patience has been the key. I’ve stuck to my plan, kept doing what I do and trying not to force it,” he said. “This is my third Amateur Championship, and I would not miss this event for anything in the world. It’s the best amateur event there is. You can’t ignore the history of The R&A.”
And while the 20-year-old is aware of the rewards on offer to the champion, he will not be burdened by any thoughts of Sandwich or Magnolia Lane.
“The Open is my dream tournament. As the title suggests, it’s the Open, and if I could choose to win just one event in my life, I’d choose that one,” he said. “But I won’t be thinking about that tomorrow.”
After defeating England’s Tom Lewis 4&3 in his morning quarterfinal, world No. 36 Stewart, 21, was never down in his semifinal against Sebastian Gros, building a 5-hole lead by the turn thanks to four consecutive wins from the fifth hole to the eighth, before closing out the match 5&4.
“I made three bogeys all day, so when you’re on or around par on this course, in these conditions, you’ll be fine,” explained Stewart, a member of the 2011 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup squad.
“If I just keep doing what I’m doing, I’m confident that I’ll be fine. People ask me what it is about match play that I like so much, and I can’t answer them. I just seem to play well when it’s one on one. I know Bryden; he’s a very good player, so it should be a great match.
Stewart, who was until recently hampered by a wrist injury that caused him to miss May’s Walker Cup trial match, now finds himself 36-holes away from two major championship opportunities, which he admitted would be “life-changing.”
“I’ll think about what’s at stake tonight,” he said. “You’re obviously aware of how close you are, but, on the first tee tomorrow, it’ll be out of my mind. This is the big one, this is the target; it’s been a long time coming.”
The final will begin at 8:30 a.m. local time, with the second 18 holes due to commence at 1:00 p.m.