Two Australian women — Perth's Hannah Green and Sydney's Celia Yuan — have qualified for the quarter-finals of the Australian Amateur championship at Metropolitan over the weekend.
Yuan, the Australian junior champion from last year, beat 15-year-old Melbourne wunderkind Gabriela Ruffels comfortably in their round of 16 match, coming from two-down early to win 4 and 3. But Green, 19, a member of the national squad, went to the last hole in a titanic encounter with impressive Gold Coast player Karis Davidson, 17.
The Western Australian suffered some ill-fortune in her round but the wheel turned for her when Davidson was dealt a cruel blow at the eight hole, their 17th for the day, when her caddie accidentally moved her golf ball, incurring a one-shot penalty.
The incident may well have cost Davidson, the highest-ranked Australian woman in the field, a chance of winning. Later, she said she was "a bit too upset'' to respond, although at the time, she handled it with admirable calm.
She was billeted with the caddie, who is not a professional looper, in Melbourne, and who was duly mortified by his mistake. Having tugged her tee shot into the mulga on the left of the par-four eighth hole, she might well have been about to lose the hole already. Her golf ball was wedged against a huge stick and stymied behind a eucalypt.
But the caddie moved the golf ball half a metre when he stood on the end of the stick, and Davidson had to call a penalty on herself, then replace the ball against the wood. A triple bogey ensued, she conceded the hole to go one down, and they went to the ninth hole, their 18th of the day.
"I didn't get told that until I hit my second shot,'' said Green. "It could've made a different decision in my play but it ended up making no difference to the hole.''
Even then, Davidson fought doggedly, hitting a brilliant hybrid shot to within a metre of the flag at the par-four, giving herself a near rock-solid birdie chance. But Green, who has come to Metropolitan on a mission to win her first Australian Amateur responded with a great wedge shot to three metres, and rolled her putt in to finish it, two and one.
"It was a long day,'' said Green. "I didn't hole many putts today and I was glad that one went in, otherwise I think we were playing the 19th hole.''
She has set herself to win this week, with the prize of a spot in the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open at The Grange next month on the line. "I've just got to do whatever it takes to get there.''
Green will play Japan's teenager Yumi Matsubara in tomorrow morning's quarter-final.
Yuan, from Bankstown Golf Club and The Australian, was in trouble early against Ruffels, an incredible talent and the younger sister of Ryan Ruffels, one of Australia's best amateur talents for years and who by coincidence, turned professional today. With her mother Annamaria (a former tennis professional) on the bag and her big brother walking with her, Ruffels went two up but then faltered, and Yuan was steadier.
Although she is just 17, she has more experience, having won the Australian junior in Adelaide last year. She will play Ga-Young Lee of South Korea in a quarter-final.
There are four Koreans, two Japanese and two Australians in the quarter-finals tomorrow, after the No. 1 seed, Japan's Minami Katsu, was knocked out in the second round by Min-Ji Park of Korea.
Ga-Young Lee (Sth Korea) v Celina Yuan (Australia)
Nasa Hatoaka (Japan) v Ayean Cho (Sth Korea)
Yumi Matsubara (Japan) v Hannah Green (Australia)