While Chris Williams ends the 2012 season as the world’s number one amateur, the quiet man from Washington State knows he’ll have to fight hard to retain his status in 2013.
Every year amateur aficionados marvel at the quality of players in the unpaid ranks. The 2012 season was no different.
Williams not only helped the United States to a comfortable team win, but he only lost out on finishing top individual thanks to an outstanding final round from Mexico’s Sebastian Vazquez. Williams finished second low individual to cap a season that saw him win the Western Amateur, Washington State Amateur and the NCAA D1 Southwest Regional Championship as a University of Washington player.
Of course, Williams wasn’t the only highlight of the amateur season. Far from it.
Alan Dunbar continued a trend when he won the Amateur Championship at Royal Troon. The Portrush player defeated talented Austrian Matthias Schwab to follow in the footsteps of countrymen Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy in bringing important trophies back to Northern Ireland.
Steven Fox of the United States came from behind to win the US Amateur against Michael Weaver. Fox won the tense battle at the 37th hole.
England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick finished the season 10th on the WAGR table. Victory in the Boys’ Amateur Championship helped him achieve that status. His 10&8 win over Henry James was one of the biggest margins of victory in the history of the championship.
As if the above wasn’t enough, 14-year-old Tianlang Guan made history when he won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship to earn a place in the Masters. He will become the youngest ever Masters contestant.
The 2012 season is going to be hard to beat.
While world number one Lydia Ko highlighted the strength of women’s amateur golf during 2012, her closest challenger ended the season doing the same.
Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn, number two on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, earned the number one card at the Ladies European Tour Qualifying School in Morocco with a display of golf that should stand her in good stead amongst Europe’s elite women professionals next season.
The 17-year-old crafted a 24-under-par total of 336 to earn a five-shot victory over English amateur Emily Taylor and New Zealand professional Nikki Campbell. Taylor finished the season ranked 32nd on the WAGR table.
In all, four amateurs earned cards at the LET School. Namibia’s Bonita Bredenhann and Maria Salinas of Peru finished joint ninth. Bredenhann ended 2012 14th on the WAGR list, while Salinas ranked 27th.
Despite Jutanugarn’s performance, Lydia Ko was the story of the 2012 Women’s amateur season. Victory in the US Women’s Amateur Championship, low amateur in both the US Women’s Open and Ricoh Women’s British Open and low individual honours in the World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey proved why the 15-year-old earned the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the world’s best amateur.
South Korea won the World Amateur Team Championship to punctuate why Korean women are currently dominating the women’s professional game.
The Curtis Cup was also a huge highlight of the 2012 season. Great Britain & Ireland won the cup for the first time since 1996, producing a comeback 10 ½ - 9-½ victory over the United States at Nairn, Scotland.
Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow helped GB&I to that win, and then won the Ladies’ British Amateur Championship to make it a Northern Irish double along with Alan Dunbar’s Amateur Championship win.
England’s Georgia Hall, who finished 2012 fifth on the WAGR table, won the Girls' British Open Amateur Championship. Finally, Australia’s Minjee Lee, world number four, won the US Girls’ Championship.