Sunshine Coast youngster Cassie Porter today stormed home to become just the second local to win the prestigious Katherine Kirk Classic, named after her golfing idol.
Cassie (223; 82-73-68) came from seven shots back to win by a stroke from defending champion Ashley Lau. Her brilliant final-round four under par 68 featured six birdies, three on each nine.
And while Cassie says the victory is the best of her fledgling career, the greatest thrill was winning a tournament sponsored be her female golfing idol.
“I have never met Katherine, but the fact she comes from Sunrise Beach and I live at Peregian Springs, there seems like an affinity,” she said.
“Like all the other girls who played in this tournament, I want to thank Katherine for her support. Hopefully one day we will get to meet each other.”
That will happen sooner rather than later if the 15-year-old continues to play as she did today. Trailing 19-year-old Lau by seven shots and playing in the third-last group, she birdied the first two holes and then came home with three birdies in six holes on the back nine.
“Being so far behind Ashley, who is such a great player, I never thought I had a chance,” Cassie said.
“So, with nothing at all to lose, I just went out there, played my natural game and didn’t feel any pressure at all. And my putting stroke was brilliant – I sank probably half a dozen really long putts.”
Most girls in the field struggled in the windy conditions on the Maroochy River links layout on Sunday, the first day of the tournament, and Cassie was no exception. She shot 10-over and was well back.
Although a one-over 73 on Monday brought her back into contention, at no stage during her brilliant third round did Cassie dare consider that she might be holding aloft the prestigious trophy, which was being contested for the 15th time.
“I actually didn’t know I was even close to the lead until I was told that I had won,” she said.
“I am ecstatic. I shot five-under in Florida last year in my best round ever, but that doesn’t compare to winning Katherine’s event here on the Sunshine Coast.”
A member of the Queensland Girls’ State Team, Cassie recently won the Champions of Champions event held in conjunction with the Queensland Women’s Stroke Play and next weekend will defend her Sunshine Coast Junior Masters title.
Overnight leader Ashley Lau, who equalled the Maroochy River course record in winning last year’s event, stumbled on the final day with a four over 76. But she hung on to beat Isabelle Taylor (Sanctuary Cove) and recent Queensland Amateur champion, Hye Park (Royal Pines) by a stroke.
Because Cassie is ineligible to win more than one event, Hye Park was awarded the 15 and under division title while Karis Davidson won the under 21 years division by a whopping 21 strokes. Karis had the lowest 54-hole score of the tournament and her one-over total of 215 (75-71-69) included 13 birdies.