Date: April 06, 2019
Author: David Greenhill

Leaders hold nerve at NT Am

Challenges came, but both Cassie Porter and Jake Hughes had the answers.

The halfway leaders will carry that same mantle into tomorrow’s final round of the Northern Territory Amateur Championship after each stood their ground at the Alice Springs Golf Club today.

With a gusting easterly wind making third-round scoring tricky, 16-year-old Porter ended the day where she started, with a seven-stroke lead in the women’s championship with her 70 leaving her at 11 under through three rounds.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing because, despite a birdie at the second, bogeys at the fifth and seventh holes brought her chasers closer.

Defending her title after winning in Darwin in 2018, Porter shrugged off the indifferent start with an inward nine of 32 including birdies at her final two holes.

After being introduced to golf by her parents as a nine-year-old, the effervescent Peregian Golf Club member has rapidly developed her game with the help professional Daniel Morrison.

“I didn’t really like golf at first, but now I just love it,” said Porter, whose hero is the in-form Katherine Kirk, a fellow Sunshine Coaster.

“I’ve been working hard on my game with Daniel over the past three years and I’m sticking to the processes when playing competitions.”

The leading amateur at both the Canberra Classic and NSW Women’s Open this summer, Porter will be hard to catch.

St Michael's member Kelsey Bennett, who broke the women’s course record in Friday’s second round, continued her fine form with a four-under 69 to sit second at four under.

The Australian’s Stefanie Hall is in third position a further four strokes behind at even par.

The men’s championship roared to life on the short ninth hole when another St Michael's member, John Lyras, made eagle to close Hughes’ overnight break to just one stroke after an outward nine of two-under 34.

However after steady par golf to that point, Hughes immediately responded with a birdie at the same hole to retain the lead.

Belying the wind, the pair traded birdies on the back nine in a spectacular display of shot-making with Lyras edging in front after a birdie two at the difficult 171m 15th hole.

But two late bogeys by the New South Welshman at the 16th and 17th, and two closing birdies for Hughes enabled the latter to regain his one-stroke margin.

The 24-year-old Hughes signed for a three-under 69 to head the men’s field at 11 under.

Lyras’ third-round 68 leaves him in hot pursuit at 10 under, with Virginia’s Zach Maxwell a further five strokes back in third at five under after a 71.

Hughes, chasing his maiden NT Amateur at the course he first joined as an 11-year-old, was pleased to maintain his lead.

“I scrambled well, really,” said Hughes, who reached the final 16 at January’s Australian Amateur at Woodlands in Melbourne.

“I’ve been doing a lot of work with my coaches, Dale Lynch and Craig Spence, so hopefully it’ll continue tomorrow.”

The 2019 NT Amateur concludes tomorrow with the final round to commence at 7am (Australian Central Standard Time).