Yu-Chiang Hou and Jones Comerford have been crowned the 2016 Sportscover Victorian Junior Masters Champions at Waverley Golf Club late this afternoon.
There was no shortage of entertainment as the tournament saw record fields, course records and even an ace. To top it off the final round was streamed live allowing golf enthusiasts who were unable to make it out to Waverley GC the opportunity to watch one of the most prestigious Junior tournaments in the country.
The inclusion of Churchill Park Golf Club as a secondary venue allowed the field size to grow to a record-breaking 221 players compromising of 166 boys and 55 girls. Australia, Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Germany and New Zealand were all represented in the field.
The girls had course records in their sight across both venues. In round 1, eventual champion, Taiwanese Yu-Chiang Hou shot a blistering 5-under par 68 to equal the course record at Waverley GC.
Meanwhile at Churchill Park GC, Kiwi Alanna Campbell broke the five year standing course record of 78 with her first round 75. However, the record wouldn’t stand for long. In the second round German Catherine Kuchenmeister turned in her card with a 73 only to be trounced for the record by Hou’s older sister Yu-Sang Hou who turned in a 3-under 70.
The highlight of the boys’ field came in the second round from 12-year-old Nathan Page. Page lined up his four iron on the 5th hole at Waverley GC which made its way straight into the cup for his first ever hole-in-one.
However, the final glory was reserved for champions Yu-Chiang Hou and New South Welshman Jones Comerford.
In her second trip to Australia, Hou said she was excited about her victory.
“This week the ball flight was good. I hit the fairways and my putting was good this week. I shot 5-under on the first day,” said Hou.
In howling winds during the afternoon round, Hou’s only real competition came in the way of Celina Yuan (The Australian GC). Heading to the 15th tee, Hou held a single shot lead before making bogey but a disastrous double bogey on the same hole from Yuan pushed the lead out to two.
Yuan recovered well on the par 3 16th with a brilliant up and down to save par whilst Hou faltered with a second consecutive bogey, the lead cut back to a single stroke.
Both players made par on the 17th which included Hou hitting the flagstick on her 110 metre second shot approach. Coming down the 18th, Hou remained a one shot leader over Yuan and the final score would remain the same as both players again made par, giving Hou the one stroke victory.
“I turned to my 6 iron and layed up to about 30 yards then chipped onto the green and made the 2-putt,” Hou said about her final hole.
In the boys’ field, Konrad Ciupek (Victoria GC) had a nervous wait after turning in his card at 2-over while the final group including Comerford (Bonnie Doon GC) was still on course.
A triple bogey on the 9th hole rocked Comerford half way through his round but resilience was key for the eventual champion as he headed for the back nine.
“It killed me. I birdied the first and then had 7 pars, and got to that hole (9th) and had made triple which made it tough at the turn. I said to myself ‘just make a birdie or something’ and I birdied 14, made a good putt on 15 and made up and down on 16,” said Comerford.
At this point Comerford still held the outright lead at one over par however, a bogey on the 17th dropped him back to 2-over alongside Ciupek.
“I’d just got the word that Conrad come in at 2-over and I’d just bogeyed 17, and I heard people saying he needs to birdie the last.”
A chip in birdie attempt on the 18th regulation hole lipped out and Comerford made par to force a playoff.
“I was more nervous coming in before the playoff on the 18th because I knew if I didn’t birdie or par it then I wouldn’t be in it, and I wouldn’t even be able to get to a playoff so I just took the extra hole playoff as a privilege,” said Comerford.
“I had to just stick with my shots and not think about victory, not think about losing and just play in the moment.”
Asked what it feels like to have his name etched on the trophy alongside some of today’s biggest names, Comerford was all smiles.
“It feels good. It’s only just sinking in. Aaron Baddeley, Jason Day, Marc Leishman. It’s pretty awesome to join them. Hopefully I’ll have the career they do.”
For full results, click here for the tournament home page.