In thrilling finales at both boys’ and girls’ championships today, Victorian John and Kim, of New South Wales, each prevailed on the 72nd hole to join a tremendous honour roll of past champions.
At Wollongong Golf Club, John held his nerve with a par up the closing hole – in fact nine in succession – to hold off New South Welshman Jordan Garner by a stroke in a tense finale.
And at nearby Port Kembla Golf Club, Kim went one better in nailing a birdie on the final hole to prevail after an epic battle with state teammates Hannah Park and Doey Choi.
Both winners earnt exemptions into their respective national Open championships next summer.
John, 17, said the thought of competing against a world-class field in the Emirates Australian Open at The Australian Golf Club in November had been his primary motivation on the closing hole, which included a clutch 3-iron second shot for a long water carry on the par-5 18th.
“I actually stood over that shot and said to myself, `You have to hit this well if you want to play the Aussie Open’ and thankfully I managed to do it,” said John after his fifth and final year of eligibility for the junior title.
“I’ve watched some really good players win these in the past few years and I knew this was my last chance and I didn’t want to regret it, so I’m really pleased to have ticked it off now.
“I can’t wait to play in November and hopefully compare my game to some of the best professionals in the world – it’s going to be awesome.”
Kim, 16, has had a massive summer, winning the Greg Norman Junior Masters in Queensland and being named not only to next week’s NSW girls’ team, but also next month’s open-age women’s interstate series.
And next summer promises to be even bigger, with a start in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at Adelaide’s Kooyonga Golf Club now locked in.
“I’m stoked. I just heard about that and I can’t think straight right now,” Kim beamed.
“I really can’t put into words what that means.”
Kim never led outright until the final putt, but drilled her closing approach to within 2m to turn up the heat when it mattered most.
Park, who’d led or shared the lead for the entire tournament, watched in disbelief as her 2.5m birdie putt horse-shoed out and then Kim calmly rolled in her own birdie try in a storybook finish.