Date: April 10, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Yuan triumphs in tense playoff

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Sydney’s Celina Yuan survived final-round jitters, then a nail-biting playoff, to win the Australian Girls’ Amateur title in Adelaide today.

Yuan, 16, toppled Queenslander Karis Davidson with a birdie on the third extra hole to win her first national championship at Tea Tree Gully Golf Club.

Agonisingly for Davidson it was the second consecutive year she’s finished runner-up in the event, falling to Victorian Kono Matsumoto by just one stroke last year.

Yuan began the final-day 36-hole marathon with a bogey, but then ploughed through the field with six birdies en route to the week’s best score of 68 to establish a four-shot buffer over Davidson by lunch.

But The Australian and Bankstown member frittered away her lead at regular intervals in her afternoon round of 78, a double-bogey on the sixth the biggest blemish.

Eventually, when Yuan bogeyed the 17th after Davidson birdied the 15th, the pair was level.

Davidson had to scramble an up-and-down on the last to force a playoff – and she duly responded.

In fact, she did twice more during extra time – including an incredible save on the second hole – but when her 4m birdie try on the third go around slid by, Yuan pounced.

The Sydneysider had knocked her approach in tight and when her birdie trickled in from inside 1m as light faded, the nearby New South Wales team rejoiced in her honour.

“I was a bit nervous (during the playoff),” Yuan admitted.

“It wasn’t my best round to get there and I thought I wouldn’t win.

“But as it went on, I thought I had a better chance and then it just happened.”

Yuan, who still has a year of junior eligibility remaining, said her maiden national title was “enormous”.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, I don’t think … I’m pretty happy.”

Yuan was 9th last year at Yering Meadows and sixth at Mount Lawley in 2013 after being 50th at Carbrook in 2012 and 39th in Newcastle in 2011.

Kiwi Brooke Hamilton was third today, three shots back from playoff contention at four over, while Malaysia’s Ashley Lau Jen Wen shared fourth with Queenslander Kirsty Hodgkins another shot back.