Rumford latest arrival as the amateurs take centre stage

Following the success of Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia golf enters the new millennium with youngsters no longer intimidated by the professional spotlight

The repercussions from Aaron Baddeley's victory in the Australian Open last month, when aged 18 he became the youngest winner of the country's premier title in its 95-year history and the first amateur champion for 39 years, will not stop for a while yet. One of them, however, came about unexpectedly the following week.

The repercussions from Aaron Baddeley's victory in the Australian Open last month, when aged 18 he became the youngest winner of the country's premier title in its 95-year history and the first amateur champion for 39 years, will not stop for a while yet. One of them, however, came about unexpectedly the following week.

Brett Rumford, fully four years Baddeley's senior, also had to turn down the winner's cheque and settle for the trophy when he won the ANZ Players' Championship. Rumford, who won a four-hole play-off, gave some of the credit to Baddeley. "He inspired me and spurred me on," Rumford said. "It was like breaking the four-minute mile barrier. You should see a lot more amateurs winning now."

Rumford added: "We went out to dinner on Friday night and Aaron was waiting for me in the bar, surrounded by five women. I thought that was really good. During dinner people came up to him and asked for autographs while I sat there, twiddling my thumbs. There is also the respect that is given when you achieve such a feat."

Kids, these days, they want it all. Respect for their elders, maybe, but awe? Hardly. Baddeley had Greg Norman, a hero to every young Aussie golfer, breathing down his neck and played the final round at Royal Sydney alongside Colin Montgomerie, the world No 3. He might have been playing for his club in a local league match so unruffled was he.

As an amateur - and in the aftermath of his victory he said he had no plans to turn professional until after next August's Eisenhower Trophy - Baddeley, who was born in America but grew up in Melbourne, had to turn down the £75,000 first prize. He did get to keep the Stonehaven Cup, which features the names of Norman, Nicklaus, Thomson, Player, Palmer, Locke and Watson. "As long as I'm holding that," he said, "it's not a problem.

"I've been dreaming about this for the last couple of months," Baddeley added. "It is great to actually do it. The course suited my game, and I was very confident coming here this week because I knew my game was ready. I always felt I could win. I played my best, and it was good enough."

The game, it seems, is heading into a brave new millennium with the thrilling prospect of a host of new young stars to savour. We have only just drawn breath from the stunning introduction into the professional ranks of Sergio Garcia, while the world's best player, by a country mile at the moment, Tiger Woods, is only 24 later this month.

It is a little early to talk of Woods, Garcia and Baddeley as great a triumvirate as Nicklaus, Palmer and Player, but the game is no longer the preserve of the Pringle-sweatered thirtysomethings who appeared to dominate the tours over the last couple of decades.

Golf has always thrown up its young prodigies, going right back to Young Tom Morris, who won four successive Opens before, following the death of his wife, he died, it is said, of a broken heart on Christmas Day 1875 at the age of 24. Francis Ouimet was 20 when he won the US Open at Brookline in 1913 and Gene Sarazen the same age when he won both the US Open and USPGA in 1922. Woods won the Masters in '97 at 21, taking the record for Augusta from Seve Ballesteros.

Bobby Jones had won four US Opens and three Opens by the time he retired at the age of 28 in 1930. Jones, a successful lawyer, would not recognise today's amateurs. Rather than golf being a hobby outside of work, the game is all they know. Golfing bodies as well organised as the Australian Golf Union and the Swedish Federation give their youngsters all the opportunities they need to play and practice without having to earn a living. After his win, Rumford, a West Australian, said: "That's what it's all about. That is what practising eight hours a day is for. I owe a lot of my experience to the Australian Golf Union. They have given me the opportunity to play in events like this."

In some ways, these kids are better off than the pros, who rarely have an chance to practice for eight hours a day for long periods. There is always a corporate day, a course to design, business meetings to attend, not to mention all the travelling around the tours.

Justin Rose showed how hard it is to adapt when he missed the cut in his first 21 tournaments as a professional. Rose, who quit the amateur ranks after finishing fourth in the 1998 Open at Royal Birkdale, struggled for 18 months before earning his card for next season at the European tour school last month. England's Luke Donald is the current NCAA champion in the States and has elected to finish his college degree, as did Matt Kuchar after grinning his way to high finishes at the Masters and US Open in 1998.

College stars have not always fulfilled their potential. Scott Verplank was the reigning US Amateur champion when he won the Western Open in 1985 but has had to go back to the Qualifying School in recent years. Phil Mickelson won the Tucson Open in 1991 as an amateur and has been a frequent winner on the US tour but has yet to earn a major.

Mark O'Meara was the US Amateur champion in 1979 but had to wait until aged 41 before winning the Masters and Open last year. O'Meara saw Baddeley win on television in the States. "The young players today, there's not a whole lot of intimidation," he said. "They believe that they can win at a very early age and Aaron obviously proved that.

"You have to have a totally different outlook as an older player and realise just how talented the young players are, and how mature they are. I think back to the old days, and there was the intimidation factor and the learning process, all those things."

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick