HUNTER golfer Corey Lamb will achieve a long-held dream later this week after qualifying for his maiden Australian Open.
The 22-year-old from Branxton now gets to play alongside the likes of Cameron Smith, Adam Scott, Australian PGA Championship winner Min Woo Lee, title holder Adrian Meronk and Ryder Cup hero Robert MacIntyre.
"It's crazy. It's definitely a dream I've had for a long time to play one of these," Lamb told the Newcastle Herald.
"It's a good feeling and I'm very excited ... A few of the boys have already rang me asking for tickets."
Lamb confirmed a spot for the 2023 tournament, which will take place between Sydney courses The Australian and The Lakes from Thursday, after finishing runner-up at Ryde-Parramatta Golf Club on Monday.
He shot a three-under 68 in the qualifier's sole round to put him one behind leader William Bayliss (67) and one ahead of a chasing trio (69).
Half-a-dozen birdies, featuring a trifecta from holes three to five and followed by another run on 12, 13 and 15, proved key.
"I was three under through eight but had a couple of bogeys through the middle and then made a few more birdies," Lamb said.
"There were 15 people still to come in when I finished and I was coming second [top two qualify] at that point, so I just had to wait and see what the rest did."
Lamb, who previously came within two strokes of qualification, has "been to quite a few [Australian Open tournaments] to spectate, but never played one".
In terms of the upcoming venue, he says "the first time I played the Aussie [course] was the best thing I've ever played".
Lamb was still piecing together logistics following the result, unsure about the next 48 hours saying "I have to go home tonight [Monday] because I didn't pack any clothes or anything like that".
Playing the same Australian Open qualifier, Nick Flanagan and Josh Fuller (74) ended up tied 24th at three over. Muswellbrook's Brady Benkovic (76) was two further back.
Jye Pickin and Aaron Townsend were both seven off the pace after scores of one-over 73 at Carnavon and Liverpool respectively.
Already in the main field are Andrew Dodt and Blake Windred.
* MATT Kirkwood is now eyeing off the NSW Amateur tournament in the new year after taking out Newcastle's District Championships for the first time.
Kirkwood finished alongside Mark Ellison with three under (69) at Belmont on Sunday but prevailed comfortably by four strokes following a three-hole play-off.
Charlestown's Lez Wallace (71) was third and looks to have wrapped up the NDGA order of merit for 2023 while title holder Tom De Wit (72) carded even par. Harry Atkinson was the junior champion.
Hawks Nest club member Kirkwood, 33 and based at Georgetown, followed up his win by tackling the Cancer Council's "Longest Day" fundraiser at Shortland on Monday.