Gold Coast golfers Becky Kay and Kade McBride have won their respective Queensland Women’s and Men’s Stroke Play Championships, finalised on Bribe Island this afternoon.
But their victories came on the back of very different form. While teenager Kay went back-to-back, having won the title on the same course last year, 22-year-old McBride was competing in a tournament of this magnitude for the first time in almost two years.
“In 2015 I contracted a serious blood infection which led to complications and four months in bed,” explained the 2014 US Amateur qualifier.
“Then in March last year I needed wrist surgery, which set me back further. It is so good to be back, playing competitive golf, and I am absolutely thrilled with this win.”
And so is teenager Becky, although she had to survive a play-off to clinch her second successive title.
Leading by six strokes going into this afternoon’s final round, she was gradually pegged back by reigning Australian Junior Champion, Grace Kim. Kim scorched around the course in a six-under 68 with an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys. Kay’s par round included four birdies, two bogies and a double.
But Kay calmly two putted the first play-off hole for par while Kim, who missed the green, watched on as the champion sealed her second successive win and Kay said the feeling was ‘awesome’.
“I didn’t expect to win last year, so coming here this week I suppose the pressure was on me,” she said.
“And I was so pleased with the way I played. I haven’t struck the ball this well for a while.”
Kay had an opening round 75, one over the card, in difficult conditions on Sunday before a two-under 72 on Monday. Facing an early start this morning ahead of the 36-hole finale, she scorched around the course with four birdies before a final-hole bogey returned 71, and gave her a six-shot advantage over Kim.
But Kim was sensational this afternoon, her final round 68 a Bribie Island course record. She had an eagle, six birdies and a bogey in her brilliant round.
After jumping out of the blocks with a three-under 69 on day one at Bribie’s Pacific Harbour, McBride (282) led all the way to win by nine shots from Charlie Dann (Pelican Waters), with Jon Lyras (St Michaels) a further shot away.
But despite his impressive win, McBride concedes he was hot and cold over the three days. He finished four under the card but mixed three double bogeys with seven bogeys, 20 birdies, an eagle and a triple bogey.
His opening 69 on Monday followed by a blistering 67 yesterday which included five birdies, an eagle and a double, was upstaged this morning with a real mixed bag.
“I started terribly with two doubles and triple in my first three holes,” he said.
“My overnight lead was cut to one I think, so I gave myself a good talking to and settled down to play some pretty decent golf from then on. Two over for 36 holes today, in fairly tough conditions, was very satisfying.”
Coolangatta Tweed member Kay, who is coached by Golf Australia’s Ryan Lumsden, turned down a US college scholarship at the end of last year to stay in Australia, play golf full-time and win events like she did today.
Last year she successfully juggled her year 12 studies and golf and spent June and July in the US playing tournaments, often completing her schoolwork between rounds.
“At times it was a struggle but my school, Palm Beach-Currumbin, were amazing. I wouldn’t have achieved what I did without their co-operation and understanding,” she said.
“My intentions are to stay in Australia and play as an amateur for maybe a year or two then turn pro and try to get some status somewhere – hopefully in America on the LPGA Tour,” she said.
But McBride, who as a young caddy at the Queensland Amateur at Burleigh Golf Club in 2006, was inspired at close range watching a 19-year-old Jason Day win the event, has more immediate plans.
“I will turn professional within the next few months,” he said.
McBride was the 2012 Queensland Boys’ Amateur Champion and was part of the Queensland Men’s team in 2014. And at the Isuzu Queensland Open that year he displayed his undoubted talent by upstaging the pros with an inspiring 66 on the first day Brookwater when winds were gusting at 30km per hour.
McBride and Kay will be the respective No.1 seeds when the Queensland Men’s and Women’s Amateur is played at Pacific Harbour on Thursday and Friday of this week.
Queensland Amateur Qualifiers
Men's: Kade McBride, Charlie Dann, John Lyras, William Heffernan, Andrew Richards, Lochlan Coleborn, Louis Dobbelaar, Chris Crabtree, Jackson Dick, Inia Logan, Naoki Sekito, Douglas Klein, Connor McLachlan, Tyler Duncan, Jed Morgan and Joel Stahlhut.
Women's: Rebecca Kay, Grace Kim, Deedee-Taylah Russell, Lisa Edgar, Rhianna Lewis (Jnr), Momo Sugiyama, Ka Yeon Park, Alexandra Hilliard, Kono Matsumoto, Monica Johnson, Suenghui (Kerri) Bong, Mia Lines, Hye Park, Min Kweon, Gabriela Ruffels, and Cassie Porter.