Date: January 23, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Elmassian drama caps great day for Aussies

Sydney’s Liz Elmassian won into the quarter-finals of the Australian Amateur Championship today in extraordinary circumstances.

Playing on her home course at The Australian, the bubbly Elmassian played the ninth hole, the last of regulation, 1-up and knocked her birdie putt to close range and earning a conceded par four from opponent Jaclyn Lee.

But with her opponent lying two in the bunker, and the excitement of advancement to the final eight flashing through her head, Elmassian mistakenly conceded Lee’s trap shot for a birdie three, meaning the match was square.

Lee, almost embarrassed but completely entitled, played on with some trepidation, while Elmassian tried to come to terms with her error on the first extra hole and was clearly still jumpy when she missed a par putt to win on the 19th.

But “justice” was probably served on the 20th when, just as her father and caddie George was shaking amid the drama, the Canadian conceded after her own bunker issues on the par-three 11th hole.

“I cannot believe I did that,” a relieved Elmassian said afterwards.

“I was so desperate to get into the quarter-finals and I was that excited that it just didn’t even dawn on me until (club member) Pam told me I’d just given her a birdie.

“My head was all over the place going up the first (extra) hole, but I’m proud that I managed to keep it together.

“They’re hard enough to win once, let alone twice,” she joked.

The dramatic win capped a superb day for the Australian women, with all six in the final 16 advancing to tomorrow’s quarter-finals.

Victorians Jo Charlton and Julianne Soo each impressed in winning 4-&-3, while Queenslander Becky Kay was stunning early before easing down to win 3-&-1.

Sydney’s Shelly Shin defeated highly regarded Korean Eun-soo Jang 2-up after a tight struggle, while Perth’s Hannah Green was superb in fighting off Eun-bin Lim 1-up courtesy of a clutch birdie on the 7th, her 16th hole.

Green, a member of the winning Australian Astor Trophy team last week, was delighted to keep her form rolling.

“It was pretty tight on the back nine and I just wanted to make sure I gave that putt (on the 7th) a chance and it went in … then I just did what I had to,” she said.

“It’s great to get into the quarters.”

Elmassian and Green will square off, as will Kay and Soo, guaranteeing at least two Aussies into the semis later tomorrow.

Medallist So-Young Lee will tackle Shin in what shapes as a classic encounter after the Korean won through 4-&-3 today over China’s Yiyi Liu.

And Charlton will face Japan’s Yumi Matsubara, who won 1-up in a surprise win over South African Bertine Strauss.

All quarter-finals and semi-finals will be played on Saturday with a 36-hole final at The Australian on Sunday morning from 8.30am.