Date: May 14, 2007
Author: Alistair Hogg

Australia second in Commonwealth Tournament

Australia finished its Commonwealth Tournament campaign on the weekend in second place behind winners Great Britain. The Australians entered the event aiming for their fourth consecutive triumph, but losses to Britain and Canada denied our girls a successful title defence. The campaign started in promising fashion at Royal Johannesburg in South Africa with a strong opening day victory over the hosts. The Aussies got off to a great start claiming the opening five points of the contest to set up an unassailable lead. However Australia was handed a tougher challenge on day two against Great Britain. The foursomes matches were split and the sides went neck-and-neck throughout the singles until a spectacular eagle putt by Brit Kerry Smith on the final hole gave her side a memorable win. Australia had a bye on day three to reassess their approach but were virtually out of contention the following day when they succumbed 4-3 in a shock loss to Canada. Australian Amateur Champion Sunny Park won her first match representing Australia but had little support from her team mates as Australia again failed to capitalise in tight situations. Despite the title being wrested from its grasp, Australia fought valiantly on the final day to score a convincing win over Trans Tasman rivals New Zealand. Players never find it tough to summon motivation when playing the Kiwis and the girls exploded to win by four points and finish the tournament in second spot and on a positive note. Park tasted victory once more, as did New South Wales&apos Frances Bondad, who was one of the team&aposs shining lights throughout the week, winning three of her four singles and two foursomes matches. Victorian Emma Bennett also had a solid week with two singles wins and an additional two foursomes wins when combined with South Australian Stephanie Na. Na was also consistent throughout her singles winning three of her four matches. Great Britain topped the table with three victories and Australia was second with two. Alongside them was South Africa and Canada also on two wins, but the Aussies claimed the runner-up position on point differential. New Zealand brought up the rear with one point in what would be considered a disappointing campaign for them. Although Australia failed to win a fourth successive Commonwealth Trophy, coach Ian Triggs was pleased with the effort and tenacity shown by his young charges. “It was a very solid performance by a very determined Australian team,” he said. “We can count ourselves unfortunate not to have defended successfully. We were the only team not to be handed out a hiding by any opposition during the tournament, proving them to be the best balanced and rounded team for all disciplines played.” Despite lauding the endeavour of the girls, Triggs also identified the key issue behind Australia&aposs losses throughout the tournament. “The 18th hole proved to be our downfall,” he said. “With six matches coming to this hole, we were only able to secure the result we needed on one occasion. Two of these losses were against Great Britain, the winning team.” But he added, “We can be very proud of the performance of this talented outfit, their maturity as players is again taking us to the top of the world.”