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Hague has a wizard time in Oz

MALTON & Norton’s David Hague is on the verge of breaking into the top 50 in the world amateur rankings after a superb showing during a four-tournament trip to Australia as part of a strong England Golf quartet.

The North of England champion rounded off his visit Down Under by reaching the last 16 of the New South Wales Amateur championship. He began the 36-hole qualifying with a two-under-par 70 at Gungahlin Lake and went two shots better in his second round at Royal Canberra with a 68. It was a round that included no fewer than seven birdies, three of them coming in a row from the fifth. Hague’s 138, six-under-par aggregate saw him move serenely into the match play stages with the top 32 qualifying. He started with an emphatic 6&4 win over Australia’s James Mee before bowing out 2&1 to Charlie Small, of New Zealand. Hague set off for Australia on New Year’s Day having breached the world’s top 100 thanks to a hugely successful 2017, which put him in 96th place.

Ahead of the journey home he had soared to 54th spot and his fine performance in the NSW Amateur could see him into the top 50. After starting with a 36th-place finish in the Australian Master of the Amateurs at Royal Canberra, Hague reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Amateur at Lake Karrinyup where he was beaten only by the eventual champion Keita Nakajima, and only by the margin of one hole.

It was the first time Australia’s top amateur event had been won by a player from Japan, and Nakjima made it a unique double for the Land of the Rising Sun when he closed out local favourite David Micheluzzi 4&3 just hours after Suzuka Yamaguchi had won the ladies event. A week later Yorkshire county team member Hague lit up the last round of the prestigious Avondale Amateur with a blistering finish to claim the runner-up spot.

Hague posted a closing 67 – four-under par – with five birdies on his back nine, including one on the last where his approach finished 2ft from the hole.

It gave him a five-under par total for the tournament, shot him up the leaderboard and made him clubhouse leader.

His title hopes were eventually dashed by Australia’s Blake Windred, who got up and down for par from a bunker on the 18th to win by a shot. Hague, 21, is touring Down Under with fellow England Golf Men’s squad members Matthew Jordan (Royal Liverpool), Gian-Marco Petrozzi (Trentham) and Jake Burnage (Saunton).

Yorkshire Golfer caught up briefly with Hague on the eve of his final event the New South Wales Amateur at Royal Canberra Golf Club and Gungahlin Lakes Golf Club and he said: “It’s been great, but non-stop over here.

“We spent all yesterday travelling and then had to play two practice rounds the day before the NSW event, finally finishing at 7.30pm. I have an early tee time tomorrow so its early to bed for me tonight."

Hague’s first trip Down Under was reward for a successful 2017 that saw him win the North of England Amateur at Alwoodley, dominate in the Lagonda Trophy – winning by 12 shots – and represent England in the Home Internationals at Moortown. He finished fifth in England Golf’s Order of Merit for 2017, thanks to other strong performances including second place in the West of England championship and third in the Berkshire Trophy.

He also won an Evolve Pro Tour event in Spain, where he beat a field that included more than 30 professionals. Later this month he will compete in the Portuguese Amateur at Montado Hotel & Golf Resort and will just have time to do his laundry before heading to Spain for two weeks, which will include a tilt at the Spanish Amateur at La Manga Club which starts on March 2.

He set out on this arduous schedule with the aim of claiming a place in the top 50 by the end of June, which would bring with it a place in the US Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach in August. A career in the pro ranks beckons, but how sweet it would be if he could follow in the footsteps of Matt Fitzpatrick, who triumphed at The Country Club in Brookline in 2013 to be crowned US Amateur champion.

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