Date: January 22, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Women’s #AusAm final: Choi’s quality shines through

When the history of the women’s Australian Amateur Championship, presented by Swinging Skirts, is analysed in the future, one gets the feeling Hye-jin Choi’s name will sit very comfortably among its champions.

Choi, the world No.4, said after her 4&2 win over compatriot So-mi Lee that she has her sights trained on becoming the world No.1 at some point in 2017 before turning professional and starting her next big climb.

Whether she can achieve that first feat before taking up entry into next month’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open – one of her grand prizes today – is debatable. 

But that she’ll get there soon is a likelihood that would surprise nobody who saw her dominate at Yarra Yarra and Kingswood in Melbourne this week.

Choi, the individual champion as Korea romped to the World Amateur Teams Championship in Mexico last year, was a comfortable winner of the medal as the stroke play champion on Wednesday, too.

And she lived up to her No.1 seeding with some timely birdies and, simply, fewer mistakes to finally overpower Lee, the tournament’s great surprise packet.

Choi, who played at The Grange in last year’s Women’s Australian Open, said she wasn’t ready to tackle for higher honours in 2016.

But, through an interpreter, she said her game had improved to the point that she would feel far more comfortable at Royal Adelaide next month.

“My game is better than it was last year. My teammates have really pushed me and I’m excited to get the chance to come back to the Australian Open and do better this time,” she said.

“We (the Korean team) have had a good year and it’s that they push me and I push them that makes us better.

“I this So-mi is a very good player, but she just didn’t play her best today,” Choi said modestly.

The surprisingly powerful Choi was 2-up at the halfway point of the 36-hole final at Yarra Yarra and was quickly under pressure when she bogeyed the 19th hole in the afternoon to have her lead halved.

But every time Lee pushed, Choi had a response and eventually won the 34th hole to take an unassailable 4-up lead.

“It’s a great honour (to win this trophy),” she told the crowd at the presentation.

One suspects the trophy will be proud to have her name in the future.