members of Queensland’s champion female amateur golf team, Becky Kay and Gennai Goodwin, will challenge the men as they attempt to qualify for next week’s Isuzu Queensland Open.
Kay, 17, and state team captain Goodwin, 21, will contest pre-qualifying at Keperra on Monday.
It is believed to be the first time female golfers have been allowed to challenge male counterparts in the 91-year history of the Queensland Open.
Tournament director Luke Bates, who announced the entries of Kay and Goodwin, said a minimum of 20 final places in the Open field would be decided at pre-qualifying rounds at Keperra and Virginia.
“They will play from the same tees as the men on Monday,’’ said Bates.
Kay and Goodwin, who are members of the Queensland Academy of Sport elite squad, are excited about testing their skills against the men but realistic in their expectations.
“It is a good opportunity for us to test our skill and challenge the mental side of our game,’’ said Goodwin.
“I know we will be hitting drivers while a lot of the guys hit 3-woods or irons off the tees. We will have some long approach shots to the greens while the guys will be attacking the pins.
“But if we can take our opportunities and scramble well we should be able to score okay.’’
Kay, a Year-12 student at Palm Beach-Currumbin High School, was the leading amateur at the 2015 Australian Ladies Masters at Royal Pines where she finished tied sixth.
“It is awesome to have the chance to play against the guys in a tournament situation,’’ she said. “I’m going to give it my best shot.
“I don’t hit the ball as far as Gennai and know it will be tough, but I am very excited.’’
Kay and Goodwin have played in top amateur events in the United States this year while Kay also played the New Zealand Open and in Japan. They were members of the victorious Queensland team which took the Gladys Hay Memorial Cup at the annual inter-state series earlier this year.
Goodwin said Golf Queensland’s head coach Tony Meyer had investigated the possibility of QAS female squad members playing the Open last year but rules stipulated only males were eligible.
But an amendment has allowed female amateurs to enter in 2016
“Tony sent us an email when he found out the change this year and we thought the time was right to give it a crack,’’ said Goodwin.
“We are going into the pre-qualifying to give it our best, but we don’t have great expectations.’’
In recent years a number of female golfers, including Minjee Lee who is currently Australia’s top-ranked professional, and Hannah Green have competed in West Australian Open. Others, including 17-year-old Hira Naveed, have gained a start via pre-qualifying.
In professional golf, Annika Sorenstam was the first woman to play a PGA Tour event in 58 years when she missed the cut at The Colonial in 2003. A year later, Laura Davies was the first female to contest an Australasian and European Tour event at the ANZ Championship at Port Stephens.
The Isuzu Queensland Open will be played at Brisbane Golf Club from October 20-23. Admission for spectators is free.