Date: March 31, 2007
Author: Alistair Hogg

Blizard and Park crowned Australian Amateur Champions

By Alistair Hogg at NSWGC Rohan Blizard and Sunny Park have won thrilling finals to be crowned 2007 Australian Amateur Champions in a gripping day at New South Wales Golf Club. The pair beat Justin Roach (NSW) and Emma Bennett (VIC) respectively to etch their name into history as the first champions in the historic combined men&aposs and women&aposs tournament. It is the first time since the championships began in 1894 that they have been held together and the players certainly made it a week to remember. Rohan Blizard, a NSWGC member for just over six years, demonstrated the value of local knowledge on the biggest day of his short career. The 22-year old handled the rainy conditions with distinction as he played his way to a 3/2 win over fellow New South Welshman, Justin Roach. The pair locked horns as each player took it in turns to stamp their authority on the contest, with only seven holes halved through the first 26. Blizard took a lead of one into the break after 18 holes but it meant little in the see-sawing contest. From all-square after 23, the local made three birdies in four holes to streak out to a three-hole lead. Roach was forced to turn aggressor but he was unable to eat into his opponent&aposs lead. With holes quickly running out, all Rohan Blizard had to do was play conservatively which he managed with aplomb as eight consecutive holes were squared to hand him the championship 3/2. While this was happening, the women were engaged in a battle of their own. Bennett, the 21-year old National Squad member grabbed an early lead over Park and soon found herself four-up through just seven holes. Bennett extended the lead to five through 16 and looked to be cruising. Park, a former runner-up was determined not to go down without a fight. She scored consecutive holes on 18 and 19 before taking four of the next seven to put her back in the contest. With just three holes to play, Bennett suddenly went from one-up to one-down but drained a monster putt on the final hole to bring the match level once more. Both players had chances to win on the first extra hole but it wasn&apost until the 38th when Bennett over-hit her tee shot that the championship was decided. Park landed her ball on the green and stepped up for a regulation two-putt to claim a memorable victory. It was a bumper day for the 22-year old who upon winning discovered she had been a surprise selection in the Australian squad for the Commonwealth Cup in South Africa this coming May. Bennett will join her along with Sarah Oh, Stephanie Na and Frances Bondad. The championships would not have been possible without the assistance of the Australian Sports Commission and New South Wales Sport and Recreation. Both bodies have played instrumental roles in helping Golf Australia stage one of the most successful Australian Amateur Championships ever. The Mens and Womens New South Wales Golf Associations were also a key part of the planning and Golf Australia would like to thank them for being so willing and accommodating in supplying the people required to stage such a successful event. Men&aposs Final Rohan Blizard (NSW) d. Jamie Roach (NSW) 3/2 Women&aposs Final Sunny Park (NSW) d. Emma Bennett (VIC) 38th