Date: January 20, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Leading the women’s amateur child’s play

If you’re feeling depressed the golfing world has passed you by, look away now.

The four players atop the Women’s Australian Amateur Championship leaderboard have a combined age of just 59.

Sydney’s Doey Choi, 14, burst from the pack late on day one at The Australian to join comparative veteran Korean Eun Jeong Seong, 15, at two under par.

They lead Chinese 13-year-old Lei Ye and another Korean, ironically 17-year-old So-young Lee by a stroke after day one of the strokeplay phase in Sydney’s southern suburbs.

Choi, a member at Concord, shot three back-nine birdies for a 71 at The Australian (par 73 for women) late in the afternoon, while Seong and Lei fired rounds of 72 and 73, respectively, at The Lakes.

Young’s 71 at The Australian also featured two late birdies as conditions eased slightly.

Keen form students wouldn’t be surprised with Seong the world’s No.9 amateur and Chines prodigy Lei one of junior golf’s hottest properties.

Seong, a powerful ball-striker who was a quarter-finalist at last year’s US Amateur, was two over after 11 holes on a day on which the weather made sub-par scores a tall order.

But remarkably, the Korean fired four birdies from the 12th, including a brace to finish, to nab the first-round lead.

Lei, who attends the Shanghai American School, chipped in for birdie on the second, nearly holed out for an ace on the last and in between played what her more seasoned groupmates described as “outstanding” golf.

Lei played the Blue Bay LPGA event in her homeland in October, already with her mind set on joining the global tour in years to come.

“I just considered the wind (impact) pretty well … I’m pretty happy with my round,” Lei said.

“I hit a five-iron within (30cm) that ran over the lip on the 18th, so that would have been a great finish, but I was happy.”

Among a group of nine players at even par in a tie for fifth are Australian Astor Trophy winning teammates Shelly Shin and Becky Kay.

Golf Australia national squad member Shin had it to two under through nine holes, but did very well to escape the 10th with a double-bogey after two run-ins with trees and another two with sand left her to get up and down for a six.

“I didn’t play great, but in these conditions it’s not too bad,” she said.

”I three-putted for bogey on the 15th, but made a birdie on the last to get it back – it was OK.”

Her Astor teammates Gennai Goodwin and Hannah Green each had two-over-par 76 to sit comfortably within the top 32.

The top 32 women after tomorrow’s reverse draw will advance to the matchplay section of the titles from Thursday at The Australian.