Date: April 27, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Aussies primed for Queen Sirikit challenge

It might be golf's equivalent of trying to beat Walter Lindrum on his home billiards table.

Australia's women's team — Hannah Green, Karis Davidson and Robyn Choi — are at Ora Country Club on South Korea's Jeju Island this week for the Queen Sirikit Cup.

Beating the Korean women in any golf competition is a tall order — they have won eight of past nine Sirikit trophies — at the best of times; doing so at the course on which they train and compete is a monumental challenge.

But for Green, a focal point of the combined Asian team's recent win in the Hankins Trophy, a lesson she learnt in Portugal will come in handy.

“They are great players and we'll have to play really well to beat them at home,” Green said from Korea yesterday.

“But people think they're robots and they're not. I saw them make mistakes — they make them, too.

“Maybe not as many as us, but they do make them,” she said with a giggle.

“I expect us to go reall well this week and be right up there with them.”

Green, of Mt Lawley Golf Club in Perth, along with Gold Coast duo Davidson (Sanctuary Cove) and Choi (Royal Pines), have shared the lion's share of amateur events around Australia in the past year and coach Virginia Irwin says they've arrived on Jeju in good form and full of the confidence those victories should generate.

More importantly, Irwin said, is that they've already bonded wonderfully as a team for the prestigious event which has this year dropped its “invitational” status to be a fully-fledged Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation sanctioned event in its 38th staging.

The competition begins today and is played over three rounds with an individual prize and the best two of the three scores counting to each country's team total.

“The girls have done all the right things to be selected to be here and watching them train here now, they're all playing well at the right time,” Irwin said.

“The camaraderie among them is great … they are helping each other out, playing their roles, giving each other great feedback and that creates a really comfortable environment — and that's when you play your best golf.

“I think it's going to be hard to beat the Korean team this week, they're such a dominant force. But the way things are going, I'm very hopeful we can be very competitive.”

Australia — through Minjee Lee, Su Oh and Grace Lennon in 2013 — is the only team to defeat the Koreans in the past nine years of Sirikit battle.

“And that absolutely is important to us … the girls all know that it can be done, that we've done it. If they play smart and hole their putts, we can definitely compete.”

Davidson, fresh from her Australian Junior Championship triumph in Tasmania a fortnight ago, took nine holes off a practice round yesterday “just to relax a little”, but rejoined her teammates as they completed their round and said she was feeling good again after a “bit of a rest”.

That left first-time Australian representative Choi and Green to battle it out for the honour of raising the Australian flag at last night's opening ceremony.

And it took a chip-off after a tight battle for Green to finally subdue Choi's spirited challenge.

“It's been great already,” said Choi, whose family's Korean heritage is helping all team members with ordering from local menus.

“I'm nervous a little; I just really want to do something for the team. But it's such an honour to play for Australia and be here … I can't wait to get going.”