The Open

Amateur Dramatics as Six Savour Open Experience

Six amateur golfers are dreaming of success in The 150th Open as they relish the opportunity to pit their wits in the historic staging over the Old Course.

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The R&A
13 Jul 22
3 mins

Sam Bairstow, Barclay Brown, Filippo Celli, Aaron Jarvis, Keita Nakajima and Aldrich Potgieter have come through different routes to seal their places in the star-studded 156-player field.

Celli, Jarvis, Nakajima and Potgieter also enjoyed the thrill of teeing up alongside legends of the game in Monday’s four-hole Celebration of Champions, further whetting their appetites for the challenge ahead this week. The leading amateur in St Andrews this week will receive the Silver Medal on completion of 72 holes, with other amateurs who complete all rounds receiving a Bronze Medal. Here we profile the six players, while you can follow our live blog at randa.org to keep up-to-date with how they perform.

Aldrich Potgieter

Aged only 17, Potgieter withstood a comeback from Bairstow to claim a dream win in The Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes last month and secure an exemption to compete in The 150th Open.  Over the Lancashire links, he achieved a nail-biting 3&2 victory to become the youngest winner of The Amateur since Matteo Manassero in 2009 and only the third South African to lift the coveted title. A three-time winner on the junior amateur circuit in his homeland in 2022, he plays at Pinnacle Point on the southern coast of South Africa and is used to windy conditions. He moved to Australia when eight-years-old and lived there for nine years before recently moving back to South Africa. The teenager has loved his time in St Andrews so far and said, “I’ve played a few practice rounds with Adam Scott, that has been amazing. He is an amazing person off the golf course as well. “I’ve also played with Louis Oosthuizen, I’m in his Academy, so I’ve met him a few times before. Seeing these guys and how they prepare, what they do around the championship, has really helped me.” Potgieter has European Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson for company in the first two rounds.
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Aldrich Potgieter became the second youngest winner in the 127-year history of the Amateur Championship on June 18 when he beat England’s Sam Bairstow 3&2 in the 36-hole final at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

Keita Nakajima

Nakajima, 22, booked a ticket to the 2022 Masters Tournament and The 150th Open via victory in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in November 2021 at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. He became the third player from Japan to win the event after Hideki Matsuyama and Takumi Kanaya. Nakajima won the Mark H McCormack Medal as the leading men’s player in the 2021 World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®) and is currently still number one in the standings. Nakajima already has a victory on the Japan Golf Tour, winning the Panasonic Open in 2021.
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Earned his exemption into the Championship last August as number one on the World Amateur Golf Ranking – this a year after compatriot Takumi Kanaya claimed the same Mark H McCormack Medal.

Aaron Jarvis

Jarvis, 19, is from the Cayman Islands and grew up playing at North Sound Golf Club on Grand Cayman, the lone 18-hole course. He would then hone his game at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Orlando, Florida. Jarvis won the Latin America Amateur Championship (LACC) in 2021 at Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, which secured his participation in the 2022 Masters Tournament and The 150th Open. With the LAAC win, Jarvis became the first player from the Cayman Islands to compete at Augusta National.

Sam Bairstow

The Englishman came through the 36-hole Final Qualifying event at St Annes Old Links for the second year running, both times after the disappointment of not quite claiming The Open place on offer through The Amateur Championship. Bairstow’s lost last month’s final to Potgieter at Royal Lytham & St Annes. “I think missing out on The Open was probably the one that hurt most so to qualify is very special,” said the Hallowes member, 23, who is no stranger to the test in Fife. “I’ve played the Links Trophy three times at the Old Course. I don’t want to jinx it but I’ve never shot over par there.”

Barclay Brown

Brown, a member of last year’s Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team at Seminole in Florida, was an impressive three-stroke winner of the 36-hole Final Qualifying event at Hollinwell on 28 June. “I played the Old Course when I was about 10-years-old with my mum and dad but I’ve never played a competitive round there, so to think my first will be in The Open is pretty cool,” said Brown, 21, who like Bairstow hails from the Sheffield area. “I’ve been to a few Opens as a spectator, and my first was at St Andrews in 2010 with my parents. I can’t remember too much about it – but I’m sure I’ll remember this year’s championship.”

Filippo Celli

Celli won the European Amateur Championship at Parador El Saler in Spain late last month, which secured him a place in The 150th Open. Celli crafted a three-under 69 in his final round to earn a one-shot victory over Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen of Denmark, capping off the biggest win of the young Italian's career.  He became the fourth Italian player to lift the trophy, and the third in six years after Stefano Mazzoli in 2015 and Luca Cianchetti in 2016. Ranked 83rd on the world amateur golf standings, Celli also finished 14th in the St Andrews Links Trophy earlier this summer to illustrate his ability for links golf. He partners Darren Clarke, the 2011 Champion Golfer of the Year, over the opening two rounds.