England teenager Georgia Hall led from start to finish of the Oates Victorian Open for women at 13th Beach, a feat worthy of a seasoned professional.
That Hall, 19, is at the start of just her second year as a pro says a lot about her future.
The woman from Dorset in the United Kingdom carded a final-round of 71, two-under par, to win by a shot. It was just the second professional win of her short career, following a second-tier win in France last year, but she acknowledged that this was the biggest.
Starting the day with a two-shot lead, she was joined in a share of the lead first by Marianne Skarpnord of Norway and Nanna Madsen of Denmark. But down the stretch she was steady. She made a great birdie at the short par-four 15th hole to regain the outright lead, then posted three consecutive pars to hold off Skarpnord and Madsen, who tied for second place.
At the par-five 18th she needed a par to win, so long as Skarpnord, who was two shots back and playing in the same group, did not make eagle. Madsen had already signed at 10-under par, and Hall was at 11-under, and Skarpnord's drive found deep rough, meaning she could not go for the green in two. The defending champion ended up rolling in a birdie but that was not enough.
As for Hall, she hit a perfect drive, tugged her second but hit a good chip, then had two putts for a strong par, finishing it with an unmissable tap-in with the green surrounded by thousands of patrons.
"I thought if I hit a good drive down 18 I'd pretty much done it, and I hit a really good drive,'' she said. ''Then I was in between clubs for my second shot, I gripped down on a three wood and hit it too easy and hit it left. I thought 'okay, I'll check the scores' and I thought 'I've got three from here'. I lagged it up and tucked it in.''
The tears came quickly after that, a fact she put down to having to carry the lead for four days. The Englishwoman had shot a 69 on Thursday in tough conditions to take the lead, and never surrendered it. "It's four days of constantly trying to keep calm, and finally I can relax,'' she said.
Victoria's Su Oh, a member of Golf Australia's rookie pro squad, finished with a 72 today to finish tied-sixth, the best of the Australians in the field. Veteran Karrie Webb finally found some form with a closing 68 that left her tied-11th after she almost missed the cut on Friday, which bodes well for her appearance at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open in Adelaide in a fortnight.
The ALPG Tour moves to New Zealand this week before the Open and the Australian Ladies Masters, and ALPG executive director Karen Lunn said the VicOpen continued to grow and attract notice. ''Everyone who plays in this event has nothing but great things to say about it,'' she said.