The Amateur

The Amateur: Players to Watch

An international starting field of 288 male players will chase success in The Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes from Monday.

The R&A
12 Jun 22
3 mins
The winner will secure a dream place in The 150th Open at St Andrews next month – and we look at five players to watch over the famous Lancashire links.

Ludvig Åberg, Sweden (World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®) – 3

Åberg reached number two on the WAGR in April when he won the Big 12 Men's Championship. It was his second victory of 2022 following February’s successful defence of The Prestige, and his fifth collegiate victory. It helped the Texas Tech student win the 2022 Ben Hogan Award presented by PNC Bank as best men’s college golfer over the previous 12 months. He is the third European to win that award, following Viktor Hovland and Jon Rahm. The Eslov, Sweden native won last year’s Jones Cup and finished second in the European Amateur. He will make his second appearance in the Arnold Palmer Cup this year. His best finish in The Amateur is making it to round three in 2019.

Ratchanon Chantananuwat, Thailand, WAGR – 9

The Thai teenager has come far in two years, from outside the WAGR top 2,000 to seventh by April this year, collecting a professional win en route. Chantananuwat featured in the WAGR news of 16 December 2020 as the highest mover with a jump of 973 rankings to 2,289th after winning the Faldo Series Thailand Championship – Hua Hin. By December last year he was 167th with a 15th place finish in the Asian Tour’s Blue Canyon Phuket Championship. He went 14 places better this April by winning the Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup on the Asian circuit to become the youngest male winner of a professional tournament at just 15 years and 37 days. That two-shot win took him to seventh on the WAGR table and he remains in the top ten. 
Ratchanon Chantananuwat was the youngest male winner of a professional tournament at just 15 years and 37 days winning the Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup.

Sam Bairstow, England, WAGR – 22

Bairstow is the highest ranked British or Irish player in this year’s championship. The Sheffield native forced his way up the World Amateur Golf Ranking® thanks to an outstanding 2021 season that saw him win three times, including the prestigious Brabazon Trophy, the English Amateur Stroke Play Championship. He won by two shots when he was the only player in the field to record four rounds in the 60s (66, 69, 69 and 69) at Ganton Golf Club. The England International put up a stout defence of his title this year, placing fourth, one of six top ten’s he’s recorded this season. Bairstow reached the quarter-finals of last year’s Amateur at Nairn.

Barclay Brown, England, WAGR – 63

The Stanford University student ended the collegiate season with back-to-back runner-up finishes in the NCAA Stockton Regional and Pac-12 Men’s Golf Championship. A member of the 2021 GB&I Walker Cup team that narrowly lost out 14-12 to the US at Seminole, Brown won the 2021 Wyoming Cowboy Classic. He was also third in the Saint Mary’s Invitational last year. He has enjoyed nine top-ten finishes on WAGR and has previously been as high as 37th in the world standings.

Kipp Popert, England, WAGR - 4345

Popert, who lives with a form of Cerebal Palsy, is understood to be the first golfer with a disability to compete in the Championship. The Wildernesse player sits second on the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD), behind Brendan Lawlor, which ranks the top golfers with disability on the basis of their average performance in counting events. He won the EDGA Hero Open at Fairmont St Andrews in August last year, which was allied to the DP World Tour’s Hero Open, before then winning the first two events this year on the newly-formed G4D Tour – The British Masters at the Belfry and the Porsche European Open at Green Eagle in Germany, both after play-offs. He attended The Open in 2001 at Royal Lytham & St Annes as a three-year-old with family members and now returns to the venue as a player. Popert played in The Amateur Pre-Qualifier at St Annes Old Links on Friday. The qualifying score fell at 73, one-over-par, with eight players playing off for seven spots, with Popert just missing out. However, he was the first reserve and is now into the field. Others to watch… read the hopes of Lytham Trophy winner John Gough.