HUDDERSFIELD’S Nick Marsh is one of 16 players competing in this week’s Amateur Championship at Carnoustie and Panmure in line to face the USA in September’s Walker Cup contest at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
An eye-catching performance would elevate Marsh from the probables to a definite, but the English Amateur champion has only one thing on his mind.
“I’m not really focusing on the Walker Cup this week,” said the 20-year-old Yorkshire county player after completing a practice round at Carnoustie yesterday.
“I’ll be focusing on one shot at a time. My next important shot is my tee shot at 10.45 at Carnoustie.”
Marsh will spearhead a 10-strong Yorkshire Union attack on the title along with fellow Walker Cup squad member Daniel Brown, of Bedale, with York’s Julian Taylor the first to get underway in the 7am group at Panmure.
All 288 contestants will play both Carnoustie and Panmure today and tomorrow with the top 64 players from the stroke play stage contesting the match play element over the following four days.
Taylor and Brown play at Panmure today with Yorkshire Union’s other competitors – Jonathan Thomson and Joe Dean (Lindrick), Steve Robins (Hull), William Whiteoak (Shipley), Daniel Wasteney (Bondhay), Jamie Bower (Meltham) and David Houlding (Moortown) joining Marsh at Carnoustie.
After his first look at Carnoustie, Marsh is of the mind set that it needs to be tackled offensively rather than with an over-cautious attitude.
“It’s the type of course where you can almost play too defensively and sometimes you’ve just got to man up and hit driver,” he explained. “You must attack when you need to although of course there are times when you have to play conservatively.
“I played pretty solid in practice and was just trying to get a feel for the course, and experiment with a couple of tee shots on each hole.
“It is a golf course where the wind is a huge factor in shot decisions and you want to get lined up on tees and hit it in the right areas.
“If I play to the standard of golf I know I’m capable of, I know I can contend for the title and just go from there this season.”
Marsh missed the cut in last year’s Amateur Championship at Portrush and Portstewart which means the further he can go into the week the better it will impact on his world ranking, which currently has him standing 40th following a high of 14 last November.
The dip has been due, in part, to the fact that he did not contest the Portuguese Amateur this year having last year banked points as its runner-up.
He also finished second in the Scottish Amateur championship last year and although he was a commendable ninth this season it still meant a comparitive disappointment in terms of ranking points.
“This is a pretty big week for me as I want to remain inside the top 50 so I can go and play the US Amateur (at Olympia Fields, Illinois from August 19 to 23) for which the top 50 are exempt,” said Marsh.
His year began Down Under where he impressed in the four Australian events in which he competed.
The Australian Amateur is played on the same lines as the Amateur Championship and he won the stroke play qualifying event, but unfortunately got knocked out in the first round. “That’s the way it goes, I really didn’t play well that day,” he reflected.
The Master of the Amateurs, Australia’s biggest event, followed at Royal Melbourne where England’s champion finished 16th on three under par.
He placed inside the top 30 in the other two events and said: “It was a brilliant trip. In the Master of the Amateurs I was paired with the fifth- and seventh-ranked players in the world and, at the time, I was ranked 14th. So I was the worst-ranked player in my threeball which doesn’t happen very often.
“Playing Royal Melbourne, in particular, was a great experience. They were probably the fastest greens I’ve ever putted on – 13 on the stimpmeter.
“They were almost ridiculous because it got quite windy one day and I thought they might get unplayable. From 10ft downhill, you just had to breathe on it and the ball just kept rolling.
“But the trip was brilliant; I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
Marsh will defend his English Amateur title at Alwoodley at the end of next month, the first part of a triple header assignment with the European Amateur and the US Amateur to follow in quick succession.