Date: April 06, 2019
Author: Justin Falconer

Soo lives her dream at Augusta

Seventy-two women lived the dream of hundreds of millions of golfers on Friday – and Melbourne’s Julienne Soo was one of them.

The 22-year-old soon-to-be professional will play for higher stakes in more lucrative events in the years to come.

But Soo likely won’t play a more memorable round of golf for the rest of her life than she did today at Augusta National Golf Club.

“I actually wasn’t that nervous and I ended up playing better than the last two days,” Soo said moments after the hike up 18.

“I birdied the first hole and thought ‘I can leave now!’”

For the 42 women that missed the final round cut in the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur, Friday’s round at golf’s most famous course was the perfect day.

Play the course you probably thought you’d never see, without any pressure and with your parents by your side.

“My parents could come inside the ropes which was really cool, that made it even more special,” said Soo.

“It was a really special moment, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to come back here because I’m turning pro in May. I’m just excited that I got to play here at least once in my life.

“They treat us like royalty, my golf wasn’t great this week but it was kind of a side-issue because of how great the tournament is.”

Actually being royalty still might not get you a tee time at Augusta National, which says a lot about the experience 72 of the world’s best young female golfers were afforded on Friday.

The nerves didn’t kick in for Soo until she walked off the 11th green.

She was nervous about hitting a tee shot she could remember forever on her favourite hole – but also nervous about getting the perfect photo on Hogan Bridge.

“If there was any shot I was nervous on, it was that one because that’s my favourite hole,” said Soo.

“It was in pristine condition, it had the bridge, there was flowers all over it. Being a girl, that was really nice to see!”

Soo’s dad Mel happily surrendered caddying duties to a local for the day and if any of the women in the top 30 haven’t made up their mind about who’ll carry their bag tomorrow, they could do worse than talk to Soo.

“He read all the greens right and clubbed me perfectly, he just knew the course back to front,” said Soo.

“He was telling me to go to some spots where I was like 'are you sure?’ But sure enough, he was right!”

But as good as Soo’s caddie Drake was at helping her navigate Augusta, he might have made an even better tour guide.

“All the caddies were showing us all the spots, like Tiger’s chip on 16 and Adam’s putt on 10,” said Soo.

“I walked over and saw Phil’s shot from the pine needles on 13.”

The scene of Bubba’s right-angle wedge from deep in the trees on 10 was the one Soo wanted to visit more than any – and it didn’t disappoint.

“It was insane! It doesn’t make sense!

As far as course set up is concerned, the women still in the hunt to be crowned the first ANWA champion may have liked what they saw on Friday.

The women played from the members tees and Soo felt like she took full advantage.

“It was shorter than what I expected because we played off the members tees and I’ve only watched it from the Masters tees,” said Soo.

“It was a really nice length, there was some holes that were a little long, like 18. But there was also some gettable holes.

“I’m really excited to watch some of the girls and see how they play.”

If Soo was surprised by Augusta’s length then she was stunned by its slopes, a common reaction by those who take to the course for the first time.

“I was out of breath on some holes!” laughed Soo.

“I had to club up two or three clubs on some holes and they weren’t even into the wind. It just goes to show how much steeper it is than it looks on TV.”

And as if her day wasn’t already special enough, Augusta National member Condoleezza Rice made a beeline for Soo under the oak tree after her round. It was as though she’d just hit the 12th green all over again.