Date: June 14, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Aussies right in world title hunt

The young Australian team continued to shine on day two of the World Junior Championship in Japan, stunning their older rivals to sit within two strokes of the halfway lead.

Led by Queenslander Isabelle Taylor’s remarkable late charge and subsequent two-under par 70 at the Chukyo Golf Club’s Ishino Course, east of Nagoya, Australia sits third at one over par after day two, but within touching distance of leader the United States at one under.

Host nation Japan fired the day’s best round – a combined five under par in the team event – to move to second at even par, while the USA used a combined one-under second-round score to move into red figures overall.

But for Australia’s trio of 16-year-olds – in a field open to players aged under-19 – it has been already a remarkable achievement with more in the offing from a team bubbling with excitement at the opportunity.

Coach Dean Kinney said the team was “fabulous again”

New South Wales pair Grace Kim (73) and Steph Kyriacou (74) continued their impressive runs to share fourth in the individual scoring race at two over, four adrift of Japan’s Yuna Nishimura.

Both Sydney women were right in that overall mix until some late hiccups today with Australian Junior champion Kim taking a double-bogey on the ninth, her final hole, and Kyriacou suffering four late bogeys after both had been sparkling early in round two.

But the reverse was true for Taylor.

The Sanctuary Cove member stumbled from the blocks with bogeys on the 12th and 13th holes, but caught fire on her second nine after a birdie on the par-three second following a spectacular nine-iron tee shot inside 2m.

She then cashed in on the fifth, eighth and ninth holes to race through the field to three over in total and a share of seventh individually.

“Isabelle was the star,” Kinney said.

“She played very solidly from tee to green all day and made nothing on her front nine … but that approach was the turning point.”

Kinney said only a tough break for Kim on the par-five closing hole stood between the team and a share of the overall lead.

“Grace was so solid all day (and) never looking like shooting over par,” he said.

“But she hit it into a fairway bunker on the par-five ninth only to hit it slightly heavy and find the pond.”

Australia, which scored a one-over total today – based on the two best scores – is the only team with all three players in the top seven, highlighting the impressive form the trio has brought to Japan.