Date: January 20, 2019
Author: Martin Blake

Hong’s chip-in to win women’s #AusAm


Yae Eun (Amy) Hong made it three Korean winners of the women’s Australian Amateur in the past four years, and she did it in style at Woodlands today.

Already three-up and playing the 34th hole of a 36-hole final against Japan’s Tsubasa Kajitani, 16-year-old Hong found herself in a difficult spot behind the 16th green. Kajitani, meanwhile, had her ball on the green with a long birdie putt to extend the match.

But Hong, yet another graduate of the incredible South Korean golfing factory, sized up the tricky chip, wedged it into the bank, ran it up on to the green and into the cup for a birdie.

It was game over, just like that. The 3&2 victory was her first in a national championship and just her third anywhere, following two wins in her native country.

Afterward, the teenager from Seoul, admitted that she had only hoped to get her matchwinning chip close to the pin.  “I just thought ‘bogey is okay’,” she said. “It was so hard, and it was my first time playing on these tough greens. I just played it and I thought it was very big, but it just went in the hole.’’

Hong has two years of high school remaining, and came to Australia to play the Amateur and the Master of the Amateurs for the experience. She brought her father Tae-Sik along, and he was on her bag today. A former professional golfer who stopped playing at 19, Tae-Sik Hong was in tears after his daughter’s victory.

“I thought: ‘Let’s just play with my Dad’,’’ said Amy Hong. “But I had good scores, made the win so it’s good for everyone.’’

Amy Hong wants to turn professional in a few years. Her favourite player, not surprisingly, is the former world No. 1 Sung Hyun Park. “I love her,’’ she said. “I met her at a tournament and I always go in the gallery. She’s the best.”

Ranked 178th in the world before today’s big win, Hong had to work hard for the win against the 15-year-old Kajitani, who has a beautiful rhythm to her swing and who hits it long.

The Korean was up for most of the day and then put the hammer down with a gorgeous, low spinning wedge to the par-five 15th hole, rolling in the birdie from three metres. Kajitani had also hit it close there, but when she missed her downhill birdie putt, Hong was three-up.

The birdie at the 16th gave her the exclamation point.