Date: February 17, 2015
Author: Martin Blake

Young veteran Oh earns her stripes


Golf Australia made Su Oh earn her way into the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open field.

Three weeks ago, she had not qualified. Trevor Herden, the tournament director, did not issue her with an invitation, and Herden's tough love was intentional. As it turned out, Oh went on to the Australian tour, finished second in the Oates Victorian Open, and earned enough money to qualify for this week's tournament. Then she won the RACV Australian Ladies Masters in Queensland last week, her first professional win.

"If I'd invited her three or four weeks ago, she might not have played last week,'' said Herden today. "She'll get more respect from other players earning her own way. She's earned her own stripes to come in.''

Oh, 18, the former world No. 1 amateur from Melbourne, is comfortable with the way it was handled. "I had to earn my way in, and I'm very happy that I did,'' she said. "It was like when I was a junior, trying to earn spots into these events. The scale's completely different, but it's a similar feeling.''

A member of Golf Australia's rookie squad, Oh is playing her seventh Australian Open, a string she began as a 12-year-old in 2009 when she came through pre-qualifying and earned herself some headlines. "I want to play as many as I can; hopefully I can set a record!'' she said.

Being a young veteran seems to come naturally to her; after practising today she was heading off to conduct a MyGolf clinic, "probably teaching kids three years younger than me, I guess''!

She would love a dollar for every time she had been asked how she feels about being a winner, too.  "I just say 'I feel great, how are you supposed to feel as a winner'? I really cherish this moment and I look forward to hopefully many more.''

Of all the players in the field Oh feels as comfortable as almost any around the hard and firm greens of Royal Melbourne. She is a member at nearby Metropolitan, has previously been a member of Kingston Heath and Kingswood, also in the sandbelt, and played dozens of rounds here.

She also has Mike Clayton, the writer, former touring professional and course designer, on the bag again, after her father Sg (a seven-handicapper) caddied for her in Queensland. "I didn't sack my dad,'' she joked. "It was an arrangement before. Mike knows this course better than anyone. I just hit it where Mike says to hit it, really. That's always the hard thing.''

Oh already has status to play on the secondary Symetra Tour in America this year and now can play on the Ladies European Tour as well. Her broad notion is to play in the US, because the top 10 money-earners on Symettra extract an LPGA Tour card for next year.

She made the final round of qualifying for the LPGA last year but faded. Not surprisingly since she was completing her VCE studies in 2014, as well as travelling to Japan (for the world amateur) and America (to accept an invitation into a major).

"The course is great. It's looking tough, but that's expected. You know the greens aren't too ridiculously firm or fast, which is great, I think. It's playable if you hit it right, you just have to miss in the right spots. It'll be easy to make bogeys, sometimes you take a bogey from where you are. Just being calm, plan it out and asking Mike where to miss and where to hit, I guess.''

She says she does not feel intimidated by the likes of world No. 1 Lydia Ko. "This is where I want to play. This is where I want to be week-in, week-out and that's why I turned pro.''