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Amateurs aim to keep up charge at Aus Open

AAP logoAAP 4/11/2016 Scott Bailey

World golf heavyweights Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott could be challenged by a bunch of amateurs at this month's Australian Open if the past year is anything to go by.

Amateurs hold most of the Australian golf tour's major crowns, with 21-year-old Ben Eccles winning last November's NSW Open, 20-year-old Brett Coletta Queensland's major event and Curis Luck claiming Western Australia's.

Luck, 20, also became the second Australian to win the US Amateur Championships earlier this year, while 18-year-old Min Woo Lee also won the US Junior Amateur title.

And they insist they're not there to make up the numbers at Royal Sydney, from November 17-20.

"We're not there to make the cut, we're there to win," Lee told AAP.

"We're definitely going to give it a chance so the whole world can see what we're made of."

No amateur has won the Australian Open since Aaron Baddedly in 1998, but the junior stocks of the country's golf have rarely been in a stronger position.

The introduction of a new high-performance program in 2011 combined nine separate academies being run by the states and the Australian Institute of Sport.

"If you put all the resources together, you have more funding there to go in the one direction with the right kids," its brainchild and high-performance director Brad James said.

"The integration and sharing now between the states is probably a real key component of the culture that's been created."

The program began with the LPGA stars Minjee Lee and Su Oh, and resulted in Australia capturing the Eisenhower Trophy for the men's world amateur team championships by a record 19 strokes in Mexico in September.

"The fruits of our labour won't be shown totally for five or more years yet though," James said.

Another key feature sees the youngsters being encouraged to travel and play abroad to become used to jetlag and the dietary challenges which come with different parts of the world.

However they'll all return home for the Australian Open, and the chance to play alongside the likes of Scott and Spieth.

"It exposes them to potential sponsors and that's a key element of it," James said.

"Then there's the chance to be alongside the top players on the course and what you can learn to replicate from them."

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