It’s been a promising start to the United Kingdom tour for some of our most promising amateurs with a pair of Victorians earning top-three finishes in key events.
The rapidly improving Montana Strauss carded a five-under-par 71 on the legendary St Andrews Old Course overnight, scything through the field to finish second at the St Rule Trophy in Scotland.
And on the west coast at Western Gailes, David Micheluzzi endured a back nine he’d rather forget, but clung to a share of third in the Scottish Strokeplay Championship.
It was a solid first-up outing by most of the Aussies as part of tours of various lengths, largely focused on preparations for the upcoming British Amateur Championships.
Strauss’ Victorian teammate Olivia Kline was also impressive, capping her three rounds – the first two of which were at the New Course – with a fine 74 to finish T6 at 11 under.
Queenslanders Dee Dee Russell (-6) and Becky Kay (-3) and South Australian Ella Adams (-2) were also impressive, but the Old Course had its way with Victorian Emily Smith, whose 83 sent her back to nine over.
But Strauss was exemplary.
The National Golf Club member has steadily progressed throughout the Australian summer and played an important role in Victoria’s recent Interstate Series triumph.
But she took a huge leap this weekend with rounds of 68 and 72 at the New Course left her in a group chasing England’s Gemma Clews as the final round moved next door to the home of golf.
Two eagles, three birdies and two bogeys later, she’d leapfrogged all bar Scotswoman Clara Young who matched Strauss’ 71 to win by a stroke at 16 under after some quality golf.
In the men’s, Micheluzzi held the lead entering the back nine at the highly regarded Western Gailes, on the coast near Troon.
But despite having those nine holes at his mercy in the first three days, he could only manage two bogeys and a double as he closed with a 75 to finish five under and four behind champion Liam Johnston, of Scotland.
Micheluzzi, of Cranbourne, near Melbourne, has also showed great form over the summer and is sure to take confidence from contending for so long against a stellar field.
Only 20 flat minutes in the third round – a triple-bogey eight and double-bogey six within three holes – cost Perth’s Ben Ferguson higher honours than his one-over finish that left him T12.
Sydney’s Travis Smyth also endured two untimely doubles during his tournament, but was otherwise impressive for his two over total that left him T14.
Perth’s Haydn Barron closed with a flat 77 that dropped him to four over and T20, while Shepparton’s Kyle Michel was T23 at five over.
Harrison Endycott, Alexander Henderson, Blake Collyer, James Grierson, Zach Murray and Will Heffernan all missed the 36-hole cut.