Down the Fairway: Young guns plan to put caddie experience to good use at Jack Newton Champions Trophy

LEARNING CURVE: Jake Riley (left) on the job as a caddy for former US tour player Nathan Green at the NSW Open. Picture: AAP
LEARNING CURVE: Jake Riley (left) on the job as a caddy for former US tour player Nathan Green at the NSW Open. Picture: AAP

JAKE Riley cherished every second as a caddy for Toronto professional and US PGA tour winner Nathan Green at the Australian Open.

But the promising 13-year-old hopes he is not on the bag for the final round of the Jack Newton Junior Golf Champions Trophy at Bonville, near Coffs Harbour, this week.

The Bonville tournament is for winners from the JNJG events throughout the year. There is a cut after three rounds. Those who don’t survive act as caddies for the final round.

Riley and Toronto clubmate Jacob Dundas are among eight players from the region including Brij Ingrey (Newcastle), Corey Lamb (Branxton), Fletcher Murray (Kew), Harry Atkinson (Kurri), Harry Cleare (Nelson Bay) and Josh Robards (Newcastle) competing in the open junior tournament.

“It will be a learning curve for sure,” Riley said. “To make the cut would be awesome. That’s the goal. You want to win but I know it will be tough playing against 17-year-olds who play off scratch and are regularly shooting under par. If I can make the cut, I’d be over the moon.”

Riley, who won the Greg Chalmers Junior Masters at Shelly Beach, caddied for Green at the NSW Open and Australian Open.

“It was awesome,” the Toronto High year seven student said. “At the Australian Open, you are on the range next to players you normally watch on TV. It’s pretty cool. Walking the course with Nathan, I learned so much.  To see how they go about their business, how they plot a way around the golf course and how they see shots. If he hits a bad shot, he still went through the same process for the next shot.”

Riley plays off four at Toronto and will head to Bonville with confidence after he finished third in the 13 years at the Jack Newton International Classic and made the final, losing in a play-off, of the state matchplay.

“They were back to back and it was good to have two strong finishes in the bigger tournaments,” Riley said.  

Dundas, who is Green’s nephew, caddied for Aaron Townsend at the NSW Open.

“It was a good experience and hopefully it helps me this week,” the 15-year-old West Wallsend High School student said. “You need to hit heaps of greens.”

Dundas earned his spot at Bonville after representing NSW against Queensland in a State Of Origin event earlier in the year. 

It will be his second assault at the Champions Trophy.

Toronto have a strong junior program which is run by Nathan Green and his brother Darren.

Atkinson has been named as the 12 years NSW representative for next year’s Origin which will be played at Newcastle on January 10-11.

Lamb and Robards will be among the favourites at Bonville after stellar years.

Lamb, 17, is fresh from winning the Federal Amateur Open in Canberra against men.

Robards won the 16 years at the South Coast Junior Masters and has had a number of top-10 finishes in highly-rated junior and senior events.

COUP: Belmont President Lyn Cooper has been elected onto the board of Golf NSW.

COUP: Belmont President Lyn Cooper has been elected onto the board of Golf NSW.

* In a major coup, Belmont president Lyn Cooper has been elected to the board of Golf NSW.

“This is an excellent opportunity for Newcastle,” she said on the Golf NSW website. “We haven't had any representation form the area on the Golf NSW board for quite some time, and I think it will be a catalyst for the sport in our region. It’s going to be great for us to have some direct liaison between Golf NSW and a lot of the smaller country clubs around.

Cooper is looking forward to being part of shaping the organisation’s direction. 

“The way Golf NSW is moving forwards is very good. I think there is an emphasis on getting women and girls into golf, but it’s not just girls, it’s juniors. If we don’t focus on youth and get them coming through in a strong capacity, we won't have a future for golf clubs.”

* Nick Flanagan jumped to 19th on the Australasian Order Of Merit after his best result in more than five years at the Australian PGA Championships on Sunday.

Flanagan closed with a 71, highlighted by an eagle-two at the eighth hole, to be at six under and a tie for sixth.

The 34-year-old, who is based in the US now, was the only player from he Hunter to make the cut at Royal Pines.

James Nitties was the highest placed local in the OOM in sixth. Callan O’Reilly was 11th followed by, Flanagan, Andrew Dodt (28th) and Jake Higginbottom (55th).

* Former Hunter golfer Dylan Perry is well placed to earn a playing card in Japan next year. Perry, who only turned professional in November, was in eighth place entering the fifth round at Q-School. The top 40 after six rounds win playing status next year. Perry carded round of 68,68,68,69 to be at 15 under.

Cal O’Reilly will switch attention back to the Australasian Tour after he missed the cut at the final stage in Japan. He carded rounds of 71,74,74,73 to finish outside the top 90.

* Andrew Dodt has moved a step closer to retaining his Asian Tour card. The 32-year-old shot four sub-par rounds to finish tied for 16th at the Queens Cup i Thailand to jump from 60th to 57th with two events remaining. 

* Jake Higginbottom, who is 42nd on the Asian Tour money list, will tee up in the co-sanctioned South African Open in Johannesburg starting Thursday.