Stephanie Bunque from Victoria GC and Metropolitan’s David Micheluzzi have won the 2017 Women’s and Men’s Victorian Amateur Championships after the 36-hole finals were decided at Commonwealth Golf Club on Wednesday.
On a hot day with a strong north wind making scoring challenging, 20-year-old Bunque defeated Australia’s No.3 ranked women’s player in Grace Kim from New South Wales 5&4 in a quality display of ball striking.
“Coming runner-up two years ago was a bit deflating at the time, but now going one-better this year is very rewarding, its a good feeling,” said Bunque after receiving her silverware.
“The morning was pretty solid, I think I was about 3- or 4-under which was nice. After lunch the wind just really picked up and I sort of struggled a bit off the tee, trying to find the fairway, competing against a strong head breeze but for me, I just continued to play my own game and not worry so much about what Grace was doing.
“I didn’t want to get too carried away or think about the score too much. So even though the wind got up and the conditions got a bit iffy at times, I felt good at where I was every spot in the match.”
In the men’s final, talented 23-year-old Micheluzzi, who is also a member at Cranbourne, secured his first Victorian Amateur title in a birdie filled 9&8 victory over 2013 Champion and Commonwealth member Zach Murray.
“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet but yeah, just over the moon,” said Micheluzzi after the dominant display.
“It’s pretty hard to win a tournament and I’ve just ticked one off the list for this year and hopefully I’ll go into next year and win more.
“I hit it probably the best I’ve hit it all week and also putted the best I have all week. It all kind of clicked which was great. It’s probably some of the best golf I’ve ever played I think.
“Hopefully 2018 can be better.”
The morning 18 of the women’s final saw Bunque take what would prove to be an unassailable five-hole lead in the 36-hole contest.
Birdies at the second, fourth and sixth coupled with some uncharacteristic indifferent play from 17-year-old Kim saw Bunque establish a four-hole advantage through nine holes.
Celebrating her birthday, Kim produced a birdie at the par five 10th to momentarily reduce the margin before a par by Bunque at the difficult dog-leg par four 11th saw the four-hole difference regained.
A further bogey by Kim at the short 15th saw Bunque stretch the lead to five-holes before the New South Wales teenager briefly rallied with a birdie at the water-flanked, par four 16th.
Bunque then produced a huge tee shot at the 330-metre 18th to finish just short of the green before pitching to a metre. The resulting birdie pushed the margin back to five-holes and set the scene for the eventual triumph.
The current Australian Junior Girls Champion, Kim, fought hard during the second 18 and reduced the margin to four-holes with a birdie at the second only to fall back to the lunchtime gap with a bogey at the fourth. A further birdie by Kim at the sixth reduced the deficit and when the teenager had a four at the par five 10th, the margin was back to three-holes.
With the hot northerly getting stronger, the 11th hole would prove pivotal. With long approaches into the green, Bunque finished just short of the putting surface while Kim found the cavernous right greenside bunker. With a difficult back left hole position confronting the players, Bunque played a sound chip to two-metres while Kim’s bunker shot settled three metres short. When Kim narrowly missed her par putt, Bunque landed the decisive blow by holing across the tricky slope for par and a four-hole lead.
Momentum restored, Bunque birdied the 12th to go five-holes clear and while Kim halted the run of losses with a birdie at the 13th, a par to Bunque at the 14th was enough to take the Women’s Victorian Amateur title. Having commenced her golf at Medway Golf Club in Melbourne’s west, Bunque joined Victoria three or four years ago.
The men’s final saw the Victorian Men’s State Team duo of Murray and Micheluzzi go head to head and it was Micheluzzi who produced a supreme display of power hitting backed by a deft short game to effectively end Murray’s chances over the morning 18. A former winner of the Port Phillip Amateur in 2016, Micheluzzi fired a bogey free round of five-under 68 to go to lunch with an eight-hole advantage. After a match play week of accounting for the leading qualifier Lukas Michel and fellow State player, Kyle Michel, 20-year-old Murray was unable to find his best form in the final and was three-over the card for the morning round.
Micheluzzi continued his stellar form into the afternoon with a birdie at the short par-four first and a concession by Murray at the second stretching the advantage to a massive 10-holes. Playing better as the afternoon heat continued to rise, Murray took the fourth with a birdie and matched Micheluzzi’s birdie at the downwind par five, 6th. A dropped shot by the leader at the 7th reduced the margin to eight-holes but a final closing birdie at the 521-metre 10th was enough for Micheluzzi to become the proud winner of the 2017 Men’s Victorian Amateur Championship.
The Victorian Men’s & Women’s Amateur Championships are the most prestigious amateur events on the Golf Victoria’s calendar. First played in 1894 (Women) & 1899 (Men), both Championships are well over a century old.
The Men’s event has now produced 70 separate winners including players such as Ivo Whitton, Harry Williams, five-time British Open Champion Peter Thomson; Australia’s first British Amateur Champion Doug Bachli; founder of the Cobra Golf Company Tom Crow and noted professionals Mike Clayton Robert Allenby Stuart Appleby, Geoff Ogilvy, Aaron Baddeley and Marcus Fraser.
The women’s event boast winners such as Mona MacLeod, Susie & Shirley Tolhurst, Burtta Cheney, Margaret Masters, Sandra McCaw, Lindy Goggin, Jane Lock, Louise Briers, Jane Crafter, Stacey Keating and more recently Su Oh.
The Victorian Amateur qualifying rounds have been held as part of the Port Phillip Amateur since 2008 for men and 2012 for women while this is the sixth year that the Men’s and Women’s Victorian Amateur match play rounds have been contested concurrently.
Golf Victoria extends sincere thanks to Kingston Heath and Commonwealth for hosting the 2017 Port Phillip Amateur and to Commonwealth for staging the match play rounds of the 2017 Victorian Amateur. Both courses were presented in superb condition with all players and officials greatly appreciating the commitment which each afforded the respective Championships.