The Amateur

The 129th Amateur Championship | Five to watch

The R&A
10 Jun 24
3 mins
From a raft of host nation hopefuls to entrants from as far afield as Australia, the United States of Ameria, South Africa, Costa Rica, Colombia, Chinese Taipei and Egypt, The Amateur Championship’s global appeal has, once again, ensured a line-up brimming with talent. The 2024 field includes rising stars, prolific winners and a decorated past Champion who lifted the title 20 years ago. Ahead of a week of keenly fought competition, which always provides intrigue, excitement and captivating storylines, here are five players to keep an eye on during this celebrated showpiece.

Christiaan Maas (South Africa)

He may not have progressed to the match play stages in the two Amateur Championships that he has played in, but Christiaan Maas knows what it’s like to go all the way to the Final and win as a caddie. In 2022 and 2023, the 20-year-old put his own disappointment at not qualifying for the knock-out phase behind him and channelled his energies into helping his compatriots, Aldrich Potgieter and Christo Lamprecht, mount successful title tilts as their bagman. Here in 2024, Maas, who represented his country in the Eisenhower Trophy, will be hoping it’s third time lucky at The Amateur Championship but as a player this time. “It would be a very weird kind of three-peat,” said Maas, as he mulled over the prospect of a unique triple crown. This year Maas has finished runner-up in a play-off at the inaugural Africa Amateur Championship and recorded five top-12 finishes in College events including a win the NCAA Austin Regional. 

Stuart Wilson (Scotland)

One of Scotland’s finest amateur golfers in his pomp, Stuart Wilson returns to The Amateur Championship to mark the 20th anniversary of his memorable victory in the Championship over the Old Course in 2004. At 46, Wilson is one of the elder statesmen in a field packed full of emerging talent, but the former GB&I Walker Cup captain will be hoping to roll back the years in a Championship that gave him his greatest individual triumph. Blairgowrie’s super siblings, Connor and Gregor Graham, may attract considerable attention but Wilson, the managing secretary at that Perthshire club, will be keen to grab a chunk of the limelight too.

Stuart Wilson - Scotland

Scotland's Stuart Wilson returns to The Amateur Championship on what is the 20th anniversary of his 2004 victory at St Andrews.

Tommy Morrison (USA)

At a towering 6 feet 9 inches, it won’t be difficult to spot American teenager Tommy Morrison.  The Amateur Championship already boasts high and mighty champions like Gordon Sherry (6ft 8in) and Christo Lamprecht (6ft 8in) but even those golfing giants would be looking up to 19-year-old Morrison. The University of Texas student is making his second appearance in the Championship and enjoyed a run to the last-16 at Hillside in 2023 during his first competitive foray outside his native land. “I want to win as many medals and trophies as I can,” said Morrison with intent after earning medallist honours in last year’s US Junior Amateur Championship before recording six top-12 finishes in College events this year. The links of Ballyliffin will be another step into the unknown but Morrison will certainly be walking tall.

Jose Luis Ballester Barrio (Spain)

Taught by Victor Garcia, the father of the 1998 Amateur Champion Sergio, Jose Luis Ballester Barrio continues to make great strides in his quest to follow in those famous golfing footsteps. A student at the same Arizona State University where another Spaniard, Jon Rahm, played with such distinction, Barrio joined Garcia on the European Amateur Championship roll of honour last year with a fine win which earned him a place at The Open. Runner-up in The R&A’s Boys’ Amateur Championship in 2019, Barrio, whose parents were both Olympic athletes, will be going for gold at Ballyliffin.

Jasper Stubbs (Australia)

It’s 70 years since Doug Bachli became the first Australian to win The Amateur Championship in 1954.  Many golfing wizards of Australia have tried since but only Bryden Macpherson, in 2011, has taken the prestigious old trophy back down under. Here in 2024, Jasper Stubbs has arrived at Ballyliffin with high hopes and an impressive pedigree. The 22-year-old captured the biggest title of his career in 2023 when he won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in his own backyard of Royal Melbourne. The previous year, Stubbs enjoyed a thumping 6&5 win in the final of the New Zealand Amateur Championship as he underlined his prowess in the cut-and-thrust of the match play arena. The 129th Amateur Championship will be played at Ballyliffin from 17-22 June. Spectators are welcome and can attend free of charge. The full field for The Amateur Championship can also be viewed here.