Two nailbiting finals highlighted the 2015 WA Amateur Championships at Hartfield Country Club, as Min Woo Lee of Royal Fremantle and Hayley Bettencourt of Mandurah prevailed to win their state titles.
It was a case of déjà vu in the Women’s Final with an exact rematch, and result, of the 2014 final. Trailing throughout the day, Hayley Bettencourt ground out a 1up victory on the 36th and final hole against Mount Lawley’s Hannah Green.
Both Bettencourt and Green were outstanding in an affair where the leads changed hands numerous times and no margin stretched beyond 2 holes.
Min Woo Lee needed two extra holes to dispatch of Kiran Day of Cottesloe, who lead throughout but succumbed to a superb Lee comeback.
Facing a 4 hole deficit with five to play, Lee won three straight holes to get within one with two holes to play. Lee then won the 36th hole to tie the match with a birdie.
While Lee’s win is a testament to his nerves of steel, Day played incredible golf throughout the event, including a defeat of Number 1 seed Curtis Luck in the Semi-Final.
It is Bettencourt’s second title from two finals, while it is Lee’s fist win in two attempts after qualifying for the 2013 final as a 14 year old.
With the 2014 Championship already to her name, Bettencourt said she was ready to handle the pressure this time around.
“Walking down those last few holes, I actually had a lot of energy. Last year I was really trying to pick myself at the end but this year I was trying to put the foot down and I was a lot more energetic.”
“I felt really solid all day, with my energy levels and golf wise as well.”
Bettencourt had tempered expectations earlier in the week but she said her mood changed after securing her first WA Amateur Medal after the Strokplay rounds.
“Having won last year’s I was feeling ok coming in, but the way I was hitting the ball at the NSW Open the week before I was just seeing how far I would get.”
“The draw I got in the matchplay made me feel I could make the final, and today, knowing how well Hannah’s played the last few months, I just wanted to keep up with her.”
After two state amateur wins and a pair of good results on the ALPG Tour, including a 15th place at the Victorian Open, Bettencourt says turning professional may be on the cards in the near future.
“It’s pretty much chatting to a lot of people who’ve been there and done that in the golfing world, and I’ll decide if I go on to play a bunch of amateur events in Europe and America or just go professional and make decisions from there.”
16 year old Min Woo Lee showed maturity beyond his age in his big comeback against Day.
“I was just saying to play my best. Kiran was playing so well so I knew I had to dig deep and try to pull through.”
“I just stuck to my game play and it just turned out well for me.”
Lee was ranked 331 in the World pre tournament, and he is hoping this win can move him towards the top-200 so he can earn some starts in America and the UK during their summer.
“I hope it gives me a good boost, I’ve been looking at my world ranking and I’m not sure what it will do from here but I hope it helps!”
“I’d love to get the opportunity [to play in the America] so we’ll have to see what happens.”
It might be the first time the Lee name has been engraved on the Men’s Amateur Trophy, but he now joins his sister, Minjee Lee, who has three state Amateur wins to her name.
While Lee did have the suppot of his sister, her well wishes came slightly too late.
“She just told me to stay patient and to think of one shot at a time, but this was when I was playing so I didn’t get it until I had finished.”
“But it was still good to know that my sister cares of me!”