Edited 2 June 2015
About a year and half ago Sophie Cusack declared three goals: to get better results in amateur events, make it into the Top 25 National Amateur Rankings, and to be selected in the State Team over the next year. She not only accomplished those goals, she went better by winning the 2015 Women’s Northern Territory Amateur Championship on 31st May at Darwin Golf Club.
Sophie’s positive attitude paid off as she climbed the top of the leaderboard at the NT Championship. After finishing equal sixth, eight over par 80 in her first round, she said, “If I had been told that I would beat Rory McIlroy by one shot in our respective opening rounds yesterday, I would have been thrilled. However, after finding a hazard and hitting a ball for six on to a neighbouring cricket field, I signed for an eight over par 80.”
She decided to set one goal for her second round…to smile after every shot, no matter the result.
She said, “I followed my birdie on the first with six consecutive pars. I was hitting it close but not holing the birdie putts. I was getting frustrated and the smiling goal was being tested."
"After two closing bogeys on the front nine, I realised all those pars I was getting annoyed with weren't so bad after all.”
“The similarities with Rory and I continued as we both signed for even par in our second rounds. Although while he has the weekend off, I have found myself one back from the lead. I do hope this isn't the last time in my career that I have something in common with Rory McIlroy!”
It was a birdie on the last hole that sealed Sophie’s victory who finished with a tournament total 224, two shots in front of VIC’s Alizza Hetherington, and QLD’s Kirsty Hodgkins and Sheridan Gorton. Fellow team member Paige Stubbs finished a further two shots back in fifth. To view full results [click here].
What makes Sophie extraordinary is that she only picked up her first club four years ago after watching her dad practice on their large property in Tenterfield. He used to pick up a forky stick and took a few swings at some cow manure while he walked behind a mob of sheep.
Sophie said, “I played with him at home recently at the Tenterfield Golf Club and he still looks like he is hitting that cow manure.”
She found her own way to the sport by teaching herself how to play watching YouTube, then joined the local Tenterfield Golf Club. Fellow Tenterfield members and her dad nurtured her passion for the game, which resulted in her gaining a scholarship to Bonnie Doon Golf Club.
Two years into the game, Sophie left the comfort of her local town and moved to Sydney to attend the Australian College of Elite Golf, where she was the only female amongst thirty-two boys. She faced the hurdle of changing her swing, which saw her game plummet. A year later she made the reserve list and competed in her first professional event at the Women’s NSW Open.
Sophie's goal to get better results in amateur events reflected in her meteoric rise in the national rankings. She scaled up the Women’s Open Rankings from 139th in 2013, to 48th in 2014, to her current 13th position, surpassing her goal of making the Top 25 National Amateur Rankings a year and a half earlier. She is now the top third female player in NSW.
Sophie’s third goal to make the State Team came to fruition when she was invited to be a reserve on the Women’s State Team in February this year. Two months later she was called up as a full member of the team after Shelly Shin left for Korea due to family circumstances.
Coach Dean Kinney said, “Sophie is a great example of how the correct attitude and mindset can get you to where you want more quickly. She invests everything into her golf and I expect her only to keep improving. She deserved the win at the NT Amateur Championship."
Sophie’s next goal is to get inside the Top 10 National Women’s Rankings.
After her result in Darwin, she discovered her love for winning and said, “I would like to do more of that. Whether it be on that national level or just winning $5 from the boys at Bonnie Doon…it all counts!”
Without many tournaments during the winter months, Sophie plans to work really hard on her game both on and off the course. She is hoping this preparation will lead to some good results during the summer.