Kirsten Rudgeley completed a lifetime goal when she claimed the women’s Amateur Championship of Western Australia title following a closely-fought final with Kathryn Norris on Sunday.
Rudgeley had been 3-down at the lunch break but turned the contest on its head in the next nine holes and she suddenly surged 3-up on the back of a hot putter.
The Wanneroo member held on to her advantage, despite Norris fighting back over the closing holes, before clinching victory with a perfectly-weighted chip at the 17th than only narrowly failed to drop in the cup.
“(I am) very happy about winning this one. I have been looking forward to this for a while – it’s been my main goal to win this tournament,” Rudgeley said.
“I couldn’t putt for the first 18 and then the next 18 everything just seemed to go in.”
Rudgeley had started nervously, with a double bogey at the third hole of the day, and Norris took full advantage as the Mandurah member established a 3-up lead after nine holes.
Rudgeley kickstarted her day with the first of her eight birdies on the par-three 11th and while she was able to close to within a hole, Norris re-confirmed her quality to pick up shots at 16 and 17 and ensure she went to lunch 3-up.
But Rudgeley had shown that she had the stomach for the fight in her semi-final against Victoria’s Montana Strauss, when she arrowed an approach over the lake at the last to secure victory, and she showed all her resolve to swing the momentum of the match completely.
She birdied the second and third after lunch and when Norris bogeyed the par-four fifth the match was all square.
Rudgeley continued to ride her new-found momentum and a birdie at the eighth helped her move 3-up with nine to play and in control.
Norris was not willing to lie down, however, and the match stepped up in quality yet again as she rattled in a 20-foot birdie at the 12th only to see Rudgeley sink a almost identical putt straight afterwards to maintain her lead.
Norris then started to find her range with the putter, as she birdied the next, and had a chance to reduce the deficit again at the par-three 14th only to roll a putt agonisingly just wide of the hole.
The pressure was starting to build and Rudgely again responded with a fine approach to the 16th that set up birdie and left her 2-up with two to play.
A see-sawing contest continued to entertain the heathy gallery and it looked like Rudgeley might open the door for Norris on the penultimate hole when she found trouble and had to leave her second shot well short of the green.
But that simply set the stage for a magical moment, befitting of a shot to win a title, when she almost chipped in to the ‘oohs and aahs’ of the gallery.
When Norris then missed her difficult chance to win the hole from off the green the WA State Junior squad team-mates shook hands on a memorable final.
“Seventeen – that was a good chip. It sealed the deal,” Rudgeley said.
“I played pretty well and I hit the ball really well. I just holed some (putts) and that got me back in the game.”
Rudgeley also paid credit to her brother Ben as a calming presence after he caddied for her through the final.
“He’s pretty chilled,” she said. “It was good to keep me calm and it was good to have him on the bag – he’s very knowledgeable.”
Min Woo Lee joined elite company when the teenager claimed his second men’s Amateur Championships of Western Australia title with a runaway win over Adam Hatch in Sunday’s final at Gosnells Golf Club.
The Royal Fremantle member effectively put the 36-hole contest to bed by the halfway mark when he blazed around Gosnells in a six-under 64 to sit down for his lunch with a 6up lead.
It was the sort of start to win any final and while Hatch hardly put a foot wrong that was simply not enough in the face of Lee’s blitz as the US Junior Amateur champion picked up six birdies in an unblemished morning round.
His first dropped shot didn’t arrive until the 25th hole, when Hatch duly clawed back a hole, but by that point the damage was done as Lee soon after clinched the contest 10&8 following yet another arrow like approach into the green.
It ensured Lee joined the likes of Roger Mackay, who earlier this month was one of five inaugural inductees into the WA Golf Industry’s Hall of Champions, as a two-time winner and afterwards he admitted his morning round had made the final appear more lopsided than it might have been.
“He (Hatch) is a really good player, he hits it really well and putts really good,” Lee said.
“He was a tough opponent – I just had a really good day.
“It’s always nice to get a name on a trophy and to get it twice with some really good names so it’s a really good moment.”
Lee’s success was further sweetened when he was then named in the WA State Team, which will host the Interstate Series in May, with the 33-year-old Hatch also claiming his place in the eight-man squad.
Lee can also look forward to dinner on the house after a friend bet that he couldn’t get to 10up during the lunch break.
That looked unlikely when he dropped his first shot but he quickly recovered, highlighted by putting his tee shot to the par-three ninth to within inches, as he zeroed in on the title.
“My friend asked me after 18 holes, he said that he’d buy me dinner if I get to 10up,” he said.
“I had to win the last three holes – which I did so hopefully I’ll be getting a nice dinner soon.”