Date: August 27, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Aussie teens finish in style

The Australian team ended its inspired performance at the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation junior championship in style in Taiwan today.

The combination of Queenslander Becky Kay and Victorian Cameron John finished second in the team event after each carded 73 in the final round of individual strokeplay at the rain-drenched Sunrise Golf and Country Club.

And capping a great week for the young squad, the team of Sydney’s Stef Hall (78) and Brisbane’s Louis Dobbelaar (76), each on their first fully-fledged Australian team, hung tough to finish 11th against much older opponents.

Kay and John had been equal leaders after the fourball and foursomes rounds of the previous two days, but couldn’t quite match it with the Korean team of Hyun-kyung Park and Young-woong Kim who finished four strokes clear.

Park, who qualified into the matchplay of the Australian Amateur in Sydney earlier this year, was the hero, shooting a bogey-free 68 to steer her team to eight under, four clear of the Aussies, with Japan’s top team third at two under.

Kay, 16, who plays at Coolangatta-Tweed on the Gold Coast, played a rollercoaster round, firing five birdies to offset six bogeys.

John, 16, a member at Commonwealth, suffered a double-bogey on the par-three 11th, but finished strongly going two under in the closing six holes to record the best score in the men’s final grouping.

“My score didn’t show it, but that was one of the better rounds I’ve ever played … I just couldn’t make a putt,” said John, who hit 14 greens in regulation, 13 of which were inside 5m and seven inside 2.5m, yet amazingly had nine putts lip out.

“I felt like I could have had anything, which was a nice feeling. I’ve taken a lot out of the week in terms of confidence, just feeling like I’m good enough to be here now.

“It was great to play with Becky – we teamed really well and it gave me a lot of freedom to know I could play freely with such a good partner to back me up.”

Hall, 16, a member at The Australian, who’d been rock solid all week, simply couldn’t buy a birdie in her round of 78 with no score worse than a bogey.

But Dobbelaar, 13, based at Brookwater, west of Brisbane, had a mix of everything.

A double-bogey on the fifth hole came after a bogey on the second. Then just when everything was trending the right way with birdies on the sixth and eighth holes, a quadruple-bogey seven on the 11thbrought an end to any title aspirations.

Showing maturity beyond his tender years, though, Dobbelaar canned a couple of birdies late in his round.

“I tried to cut my tee shot into the 11th and it plugged in the bunker and from there things just … kept getting worse,” the winner of this year’s Brookwater Open said.

“That’s one of the things I took from the week – just to minimise the damage once you make a mistake, not to let it blow out into a bigger score like that.”

All team members beamed at their experience in the green and gold.

“It feels awesome,” Dobbelaar said.

“You’re a bit nervous because you don’t get that every day, but I was really proud to play for Australia and the others were, too.

“We’ve all learnt a lot here and met some great new people – it’s a great experience.”