Date: March 13, 2016
Author: Tom Fee, GolfWA

Lee and Whitting win WA Amateur

Fred Lee of Royal Perth and Jess Witting of Royal Fremantle have won their first WA Amatuer titles in the 36 hole finals today at Cottesloe Golf Club.

The Men’s final was a battle of two of WA’s most promising young golfers as Lee, 16, defeated a valiant Cooper Geddes, 14, 5&4.

It was easily the toughest conditions of the tournament thanks to a strong morning easterly, but golfers seemed impervious to the wind. Lee made the turn 1up going 5-under the card, while Geddes was 3-under.

As the wind dropped and the temperature rose, Lee took the ascendancy, winning on the 14th hole with a birdie.

Despite Lee’s young age, he's now up to two career national ranking titles having won the NT Amateur last year.

An ecstatic Jess Whitting took out the women’s title, playing some of the golf of her life on the way to a resounding 8&6 win over Ebony Heard of the Goldfields.

Whitting hardly missed a fairway as she took an early stranglehold, leading 5up at the turn and winning on the 30th hole with a par for an 8&6 margin.

It is the WA state representative’s first state championship, which will serve as big boost to her resume as she heads to the United States for college later in the year.

With the temperature reaching 42 degrees during their second round of the day, it was an exhausted pair of champions who spoke back at the clubhouse.

“This is amazing, it was such a great experience,” said Whitting.

“I’m going to take a lot out of this event, it’s already taken a lot out of me!”

After yesterday’s semi-final win Whitting said she needed to up her game after struggling off the tee, and despite having her school formal on the eve of the final, the 18-year-old Whitting came out with the ball on a string.

“I was talking to (caddy) Paul (Bucan), and I didn’t even notice my fairways I was that focused,” said Whitting.

“He was telling me that I missed like three or four fairways for the day, whereas yesterday I only hit five.”

Whitting’s card was at even par in her first trip around Cottesloe, making two birdies and two bogeys on the way to her 5up lead at lunch.

“I think I played better in the morning,” said Whiting.

“I had a lot of tough holes but I made a lot of up and downs which helped me get a little edge on Ebony.”

Despite being in at unfamiliar situation in her first state final, Whitting was so focused on each shot that she remained oblivious to the bigger picture and completely avoiding the gravity of the situation.

“There was a stage where I had to look at the board to keep up with the score,” said Whitting.

“Paul had me playing every hole like I was square, so I always had to win every hole, and that’s how my mind set was.”

Men’s winner Fred Lee was clinical in his win, appearing to sink every putt inside 10 feet with few mistakes across the board. Speaking post-round, Lee was so gracious in his victory that it was hard to get him away from talking about his younger opponent. With Geddes in the final at just 14, Lee maybe have forgotten that winning the state title at 16 is an equally extraordinary achievement.

“I think a lot of people underestimate Cooper,” said Lee.

“Even though he’s young he’s probably one of the biggest talents to come out for this generation, he’s got such a good mindset for the game.

“Even he was down he never gave up, and he kept trying all the way through to the end and I think that’s what separates the athletes from extreme athletes.”

Apart from expressing his delight at winning the state championship, Lee didn’t reflect much on what it meant. After playing eight rounds of golf in five days, he had other things on his mind.

“I’m super happy with my result this week,” said Lee.

“I’m looking forward to a bit of a snooze tonight, playing some computer games and some fun with friends.”

“Tomorrow it’s back to study unfortunately. At the moment I just want to keep playing golf but I’ve got to mix it in with school work. This year, I’m planning on playing a few tournaments in America and Interstate Series and I’m looking forward to it.”