Date: January 15, 2019
Author: Kirsty Wrice

Queensland tyro makes #AusAm mark


Traditionally, history is made during the final round of a tournament, but for Lion Higo, round one of the 2019 Australian Women’s Amateur turned into a day she will never forget.

Higo, who turns 16 next weekend, fired a personal best six-under-par 67 at the picturesque Woodlands Golf Club to set the lead after the first of two days of stroke play qualifying.

Seven birdies in her opening 12 holes paved the way for the Emerald Lakes member to set a new course record.

But, when play at nearby Spring Valley wound up, the only thing splitting Lion Higo and Sae Ogura from the shared lead was their World Rankings – all 1311 places of it.

Japan’s Ogura, who finished T4 in the stroke play last year, produced an equally brilliant 68 to match Higo’s morning pace.

But Higo will have an extra advantage up her sleeve when she crosses over to Spring Valley tomorrow after playing the Victorian Junior Masters at the same course only two weeks ago when she finished outright sixth.

And after remarkably one-putting her first six holes, Higo is hoping to go even lower tomorrow.

“In the practice rounds I thought the greens were pretty firm and all my iron shots were running off,” Higo said with a huge grin.

“Today wasn’t too bad with the wind.”

The Queenslander was so engrossed in her round, she didn’t even realise her score until afterwards.

Higo only learned of her lead and course record from her father, her caddie, after the final hole.

“It’s actually my personal best, so I’m pretty happy.

“In the tournaments that you are allowed a caddie, I get him to caddie. We make a good team.”

The next best contender at Woodlands were Victoria’s Linley Ooi and Japan’s Chikako Sazuki.

At Spring Valley, a flurry of seven birdies from the 7th to 16th set up Japanese star Ogura with her share of the lead and a one-shot buffer from compatriot Yuri Yoshida and Victoria’s Steph Bunque with matching 69s.

The top 32 women after tomorrow’s second round of stroke play advance to the knockout match play phase beginning on Thursday morning.