Date: January 11, 2019
Author: Justin Falconer

Kyriacou, Yu finish as Masters of the Ams

It was an all Australian showdown in the final group and Sydney’s Steph Kyriacou gave the galleries something to cheer about, winning the 2019 Australian Master of the Amateurs by three shots.

The 18-year-old started the day two back of fellow New South Welshwoman and playing partner Grace Kim, but signed for a brilliant 2-under 70 – capped off with a birdie bomb at the last – to finish at 2-under for the tournament.

With birdies at the 2nd and 5th holes Kyriacou made light work of the overnight deficit, but back-to-back bogeys before making the turn set up a tense final group shootout between the Blues and the third member of the group, Melbourne’s Julienne Soo.

But birdies at 10 and 12 helped Kyriacou to a two-shot buffer over Soo coming up the last, before she curled home a 20-footer in front of the Royal Melbourne clubhouse to seal the biggest win of her life.

“I was talking to my caddie and he was telling me to stay calm which really helped,” said Kyriacou.

“Bogeys always hurt but I was always going to make bogies around Royal Melbourne. I just tried to make pars from there.

“I was so nervous coming in down the last hole, but I knew I had the lead by a couple of shots.”

And there is no better confidence boost for Kyriacou than winning on Australia's most famed layout heading into next week’s Australian Amateur Championships at Spring Valley and Woodlands.

“It’s unreal, I can’t describe the feeling,” said Kyriacou.

“I’m happy with the way I’m playing so I’ve just got to make my game plans and stick to them.”

Soo’s final round 73 capped off a consistent week, leaving the Oklahoma Sooner in outright second on the standings at 5-over.

Young gun Kim locked down third on the standings one shot further back, while fellow rising stars Becky Kay (7-over) and Maddison Hinson-Tolchard (8-over) made it an all Australian top five.

In the men’s event, it shaped up as another successful mission to Keita Nakajima’s home away from home after the Japanese sensation found the back of the 72nd green with his second shot and a one-stroke lead over the field in his pocket.

But three putts and three playoff holes later, it was Chinese Taipei’s Chun-An Yu who hoisted the trophy.

Nakajima successfully fended off all challengers throughout the course of the final round after starting two clear of the field and five ahead of the eventual champion.

But it wasn’t enough for the reigning Australian Amateur champion and last year’s low amateur at the Australian Open.

Five birdies in his first eight holes thrust Yu up the standings and into calculations.

After making birdie at the par-5 12th for the fourth straight day, Yu hit the clubhouse at 6-under for the week, still two strokes adrift of a steady Nakajima.

The Japanese prodigy had two putts to claim the title from the back of a slippery 18th green but failed to put Yu away.

Nakajima faced a similar uphill eight-foot putt to claim the silverware on the first and second playoff holes but missed both, before Yu put the hammer down with a beautiful approach to a few feet.

With the leading duo finishing at 6-under for the tournament, Sydney’s Blake Windred held down third on the standings just one stroke further back.

Three rounds of 70 and a third round 73 will see Windred enter next week in form and as one of the local favourites.

Melbourne’s Andre Lautee and American Matthew Wolff rounded out the top five at 3-under after matching 1-over 73s on Friday.

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