Date: August 29, 2018
Author: Mark Hayes

World at our girls’ chilly feet

Don’t let a few shivers fool you, the Australian women are hot to trot at the World Amateur Teams Championship in Ireland this week.

Queenslanders Kirsty Hodgkins and Becky Kay will partner Sydney’s Grace Kim at Carton House in Ireland this week as the Aussies seek a fourth Espirito Santo Trophy in the biennial world titles.

Under the eye of manager Stacey Peters and coach Dean Kinney, the women have carefully plotted practice rounds at the two layouts – the parklands O’Meara Course and links-style Montgomerie Course – at the venue near Dublin.

And while Gold Coaster Kay might not be finding the Irish temperature to her liking, she’s far warmer on the Aussie’s title chances.

“I can’t believe they call this summer,” Kay joked.

“No, it’s all good … and I really like our chances the way the girls are coming together.

“We’re all playing well and having a good time learning the courses together, too. I know we won’t be the favourites, but I can’t see why we wouldn’t be a chance.”

Confidence in that form is justified with all three women having produced good results in 2018, with Kim and Kay particularly being no strangers to pulling on the green and gold of their nation.

For Hodgkins, though, it’s a dream come true having spent the past two years at the University of Colorado and out of the domestic spotlight.

“I was out with some university friends when I got the phone call I would play for Australia and I can’t describe the feeling. It even left Dad speechless when I told my parents, too. It’s just so cool … the pinnacle of amateur golf, really,” the 2016 Riversdale Cup winner said.

“Sure, I’ve got some nerves, but this is where I want to be … I can’t see any reason why any of us wouldn’t think we can win.”

Kim, like Kay a recent recipient of the Karrie Webb Scholarship, is also packing positive thoughts based on her time with her idol.

“Getting to spend time with Karrie like that was so awesome – she’s such a legend,” Kim enthused about her week during the recent Women’s PGA Championship.

“We learnt plenty about what she did off the course in preparation … and one of the main differences was how she prepares in practice rounds.

“I’ve been doing it since, going out and hitting a lot more shots from (short-game) areas where we think the balls could roll … hollows and bunkers and sides of the green near where pins might be.

“It makes a huge difference.”

Kay concurred, saying the best advantage the young Australian contingent had was what they believe was superior mapping of the courses.

“All our training with the state and GA high performance squads help us to learn the value of that preparation and we think it will be critical this week.”

The Australians will share their opening rounds with the women of Colombia and Denmark between 8.18 and 8.40am (local time) on the Montgomerie Course today, then between 11.25am and 11.47am tomorrow on the O’Meara Course.

The best two scores from the trio each day will count towards the team total, with Korea, Sweden, Thailand and the United States also among the teams to watch.