Date: June 17, 2008

Australian Amateur Champ blogs from the UK

I&aposm writing whilst I sit in the &aposOld Clubhouse&apos in the small town of Gullane which is home to the very famous Muirfield Golf Club just down the road. I&aposve had an exciting start to my international schedule of tournaments starting with the Queen Sirikit Cup in Japan. Playing in Japan was a great experience for our team comprising of Stephanie Na, Clare Choi & myself. Unfortunately due to a minor accident on the eve of the tournament when one of my team mates accidentally fell on my foot (with her three-inch heel!) I was barely able to walk. This didn&apost help our chances and it was left to Clare and Steph to carry the Australian flag. They did Australia proud and we finished fourth behind Korea, Japan and Taiwan. I left Japan and headed for Scotland where I got to stay and practice in St Andrews. It was my first visit to this historic golf town and what a wonderful experience it was. Every golfer should visit this town in some point of their life. I took many photos with the highlights being the old cemetery, the Swilken bridge on the 18th hole of the old course and many hours spent at the famous golf pub using the public wireless internet. I also managed to catch up with a good friend and fellow golfer from Perth, Shaun Malone and we took the opportunity to be tourists and even go have a kick of the footy on the beach. Shaun spends six months over here in Europe playing tournaments and six months at home in Perth. Fortunately, he was around this week in Edinburgh and available to caddy for me in the British Amateur after a huge stuff up on mine & dad&aposs behalf. The Ladies Golf Union has a rule in the conditions of play that prohibit players from having professional golfers as their caddy. While my dad has not played professionally for almost six years, the LGU did not deem him as an amateur so Shaun generously offered to step in while dad watched on from the gallery. The Ladies British Amateur was played at North Berwick Golf Club (just down the road from Muirfield) and it was a wonderful adventure for my first golf links experience. It is a beautiful old golf course built in the sand hills and is very unique in the sense that it has old stone walls running through the course. You have to hit over these walls on three holes with the wall actually running alongside the 13th green. It is an amazing view from the fairway as you prepare to hit your approach shot! The practice rounds were an amazing experience as the wind blew ridiculously hard. I hit some of the longest shots of my life with drives going 350m and 3-irons 270m but then hitting a 3-wood into a 150m par three wasn&apost very inviting! It certainly challenged my game and did not give me much confidence going into such a huge tournament. When the tournament came around I believe I played unbelievably well despite my results. The first round was always going to prove tough with wind and rain predicted for the afternoon tee times. I had it going all day until I reached the treacherous 16th hole. A double on 16 and then missed up and downs on 17 and 18 proved costly as I came home with a three-over par 75 and went from second to equal-11th. Round two was played in much calmer conditions and I had a chance to post a great early morning score. Although, it wasn&apost a nice start (more of a jumpy start in fact), bogeying the first two holes but I bounced back with a birdie on three and settled down a bit. I hit many great shots all day but just couldn&apost capitalise on my opportunities and settled with a solid round of two-over par 74 finishing in a tie for 13th. Day three and round one of the match play then began. I was up against German Ladies Amateur Champion and Junior Curtis Cup member Caroline Masson. Naturally I was nervous and wanting to get off to a good start but a three putt from the fringe was not the ideal way to start the day. We halved the third and fourth in birdies and I stayed one down until Masson birdied the ninth to go two up. I was playing well but not converting my chances but after hitting it close on 12, my opponent three putted and I got one back. We halved the &aposwall&apos hole (13th) with birdies after I hit an 8-iron to three feet and Masson holed from 15 feet. I then holed a 25-footer for birdie on the 14th to draw level. The 15th hole at North Berwick is the famous &aposRedan&apos par three. I hit a good safe shot 35 feet right but left myself a treacherous down hill, down wind putt. After Masson had rolled her putt up to a &aposgimme&apos I rolled my putt six feet past and missed the return putt – one down again! The 16th has the most outrageous green I have ever seen but we halved the hole when I made a six footer for par. The 17th was obviously critical and after I missed a 25-footer birdie putt, Masson calmly holed her 20-footer for par to stay one up with one to play. The 18th hole at North Berwick is a 255m par 4 playing down breeze. Masson hit her driver over the back and with Shaun&aposs help, I decided to hit a 5-wood. I hit a great shot almost pin high, 50 feet left of the hole and after my opponent hit her second shot to 12 feet, I thought I needed to make my eagle putt. I hit a good putt across the green but it ran six feet past and after Masson missed her birdie putt for victory, I unfortunately missed mine to go extra holes. It was a bitter loss because I played so well. I hit every green (after the fringe on the first) but only made four birdies and two three-putt bogeys. However, all credit must go to my opponent who also made four birdies against the lone three-putt bogey. I am sure that our scoring would have won any other match today but unfortunately in match play, only one player moves on! I now leave Scotland for the US to compete in the North South Amateur, the Canadian Amateur and the US Amateur and to join fellow National Squad team mates Stephanie Na & Stacey Keating. Stay tuned for news on hopefully an Aussie victory!