The Victorian women’s team have finished runner-up at the 2016 Women’s Australian Interstate Series won by Queensland.
Heading into the series as the defending champions only Olivia Kline and four-time captain Jo Charlton remained from the 2015 side. The pair were joined by new teammates Stephanie Bunque and a trio of 15-year-olds in Alizza Hetherington, Gabi Ruffels and Zara Woodbridge.
The women opened the ledger with a slim 3-2 loss to Western Australia but bounced back in the second round with a 4-1 victory over Tasmania, highlighted by an 8&7 win from Hetherington.
On day two the Victorian’s jumped out of the blocks defeating South Australia emphatically in the third round. Kline’s 4&3 win was the narrowest margin of the 5-0 triumph.
Round four posed the toughest challenge as Victoria faced an undefeated Queensland outfit. The women ultimately suffered a 4-1 loss with Bunque capturing Victoria’s only point on the 18th hole.
With two wins and two losses Victoria sat in third position on the leader board, one contest behind their up-coming round five opponent New South Wales. The clash, dubbed the preliminary final, came down to the wire.
Woodbridge showed composure well beyond her years securing Victoria’s first point with a 1-up win on the 18th hole after trailing her opponent for most of the afternoon.
Hetherington followed with a solid 3&2 victory in the number four clash. While the crucial third point was fittingly secured by experienced team captain, Charlton, sending Victoria into the final against Queensland.
The women got off to a competitive start however they were ultimately “out-classed” by a quality Queensland side.
Hetherington conceded the first point to 2016 Riversdale cup champion Kirsty Hodgkins in the number three match losing 6&5. Queensland quickly added their second point when Gennai Goodwin defeated Woodbridge 5&4.
With Queensland securing two early points, Victoria were required to win all four remaining matches to take home the trophy. It was not to be. Ruffels suffered a narrow 2&1 loss to Dee Russell on the 17th hole awarding Queensland the three necessary points and the title.
Consolation came in the form of two top order wins. Kline defeated Rebecca Kay 2&1 and Bunque beat Karis Davidson for the second time this week 3&2.
Coach Darren Cole was impressed by the young Victorian team throughout the series, particularly the top order of Bunque and Kline.
“Steph [Bunque] really played well. She won five matches out of six playing at number two and number one. She played really high quality golf, under-par most of the time.
“Olivia [Kline] came back towards the end of the week and had a good couple of wins today,” he added.
“The girls did a great job to get into the final this morning. The more chances they get to play under a little more pressure than usual it’s going to be good for their development.
“We hung in there for a while this afternoon but Queensland are pretty experienced. On paper they were the best team so we knew we were going to have a tough battle there.”
Charlton also acknowledged the talent of the Queensland side.
“Queensland were probably the team to beat from the get-go. Everyone was out to beat them. We were just out-classed by a very experienced team,” said the captain.
“It was close. We had a couple of games go down the last couple of holes. If you snatch a couple of them the momentum changes, but didn’t quite go our way.”
Charlton was upbeat about the week in Brisbane and the future of women’s golf in Victoria with players such as Hetherington, Ruffels and Woodbridge at the helm.
“[As captain] I just try to make it fun. I always think that when you get into a team environment fun is the main factor. They’re a relatively young bunch so I’m sure it’s been a good experience for them.
“There will be some flags taken in the future with this bunch coming through,” Charlton added.
“They are super talented. I think they’ve all learnt a lot [this week] and will only grow from it for future series’, future tournaments and in their own personal development. It’s a really exciting chapter.”
View the final scores here.