Date: February 08, 2018
Author: Tony Durkin

Karis in brilliant pro debut

A stronger, more resilient Karis Davidson has applauded the Queensland Academy of Sport’s golf program for preparing the 19-year-old for her outstanding four-day professional debut last weekend.

Karis finished second to Minjee Lee in the Ladies Oates Victorian Open, reeling off 17 birdies in her eight-under par total. Just one round in her four – 72, 74, 67, 71 – was over par and she banked a purse of $58,500 for finishing five shots behind Lee, who is currently ranked No.17 in the world.

“Obviously I am over the moon about the result. Doing well in my first four-round event in the pro ranks is something I have thought about for a long time,” said Karis, who turned professional in December after having successfully graduated from Q School in Japan.

“My goal for the week was to finish top 20, but after finding myself just one shot from the lead after day three, that goal had to be changed. All I wanted to do on Sunday was stay cool under pressure and play my own game.”

And that she did. The rookie pro was the only player in the field without a bogey on her card in the final round.

But in the euphoria of beating some of the biggest names in women’s golf – Laura Davies, Mel Reid, Sue Oh, Cheyenne Woods, Sarah Kemp and Marianne Skarpnord – Karis did not overlook the polish 12 months in the QAS program had put on her game.

She was invited into the QAS squad in March last year and said the strength and conditioning work had played a major part in taking her golf to the next level.

“The gym program in particular has helped me immensely,” she said.

“Not only have I become stronger and added around 20 metres to my length, but I felt I had much more stamina over the four days. I’m sure the work in the gym is also going to help with injury prevention.”

Golf Queensland’s High-Performance Program Manager, Tony Meyer, said that not only had the QAS strength program made Karis stronger and able to add length to her game, but her technique had also improved.

“The physical improvement she has made has enabled her to create stability in her swing, which leads to greater consistency and confidence,” he said.

“Karis is a perfect example of what can be achieved under the QAS program. She was already a great player when she came into the program last year, but this result at the weekend is evidence of the benefits of the specialist training, instruction and advice.”

Coach Meyer described Karis as an ‘awesome’ student. He said she diligently travelled from the Gold Coast to Brisbane three days a week when not away playing, worked hard on her game and never shirked any task requested of her.

“She has been a wonderful example to others in the program and we will miss not having her around as often,” he said.

Apart from the expert coaching from QAS head coach Grant Field – who mentors former QAS member and now PGA Tour winner Cameron Smith – one of the major benefits of the program is the opportunity to play in major golf events both in Australia, and overseas.

Squad members train at QAS headquarters at Nathan three mornings a week, as well as at Brisbane Golf Club on Mondays. They also have specialist training, tuition and guidance from strength and conditioning staff, sports scientists, physios and nutritionists.

More than 50 applications have been received from talented young Queenslanders to gain entry into the QAS program, and the squad for 2018 will be unveiled at the end of February.

Karis wasn’t the only QAS member to star at the 13th Beach Golf Links course on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula last weekend. Fellow Gold Coaster Rebecca Kay, still an amateur, finished tied 28.

And in the Men’s Open, two former members of the QAS golf program, young guns Anthony Quayle and Cory Crawford, tied for third in a star-studded field that included such Aussie household golfing names as Robert Allenby, Richard and Nathan Green, Brett Coletta, Peter Fowler, Peter Lonard, Nick Cullen, Ashley Hall and Jordan Zunic.

Recently-turned professionals, Blake Proverbs and Taylor McDonald, who are also QAS graduates, were among the 39 players to make the cut.

The next major event for Karis Davidson is the ISPS Handa Women´s Australian Open at Kooyonga Golf Club in Adelaide from February 15. Following that she will head to Japan to kick-start her career on tour.