05 Apr 2022 | Amateur golf |
#AusJnr R1: Hammett, Bowen grab the ascendancy
by Dane Heverin
Queenslanders Sarah Hammett and William Bowen shot to the top of the Australian Junior Amateur leaderboards on an opening day of two halves at The Vines of Reynella.
Hammett produced the low round of the day - a five-under par 68 that included seven birdies - to gain a one stroke advantage, while Bowen also carded a 68, a three-under par round, to lead by the same amount.
The day began in perfect conditions as the morning groups teed off with barely a breath of wind in the air before afternoon rain settled in.
Emerald Lakes’ Hammett capitalised on the scoring-friendly weather after impressing at last week’s Australian Amateur by finishing seventh in strong winds that brought many more experienced players unstuck.
“I was feeling good after last week. I went out there trying to make as many birdies as possible and see if I could put a round together,” Hammett said.
The highlight of her day came at the par-5 18th where she made birdie after punching a 5-iron out from under a tree to set up an up-and-down that was capped off by “clutch putt” to gain the solo lead.
Hammett, who was born in the United Kingdom and whose family relocated from London to the Gold Coast nearly eight years ago, is now hoping to remain calm by focusing on the belief that competing for titles beats being in the classroom.
“I’ve been playing heaps of golf and missing heaps of school,” she said with a laugh.
“My teacher’s have been hassling me quite a bit but golf is important!”
As others stumbled in the afternoon rain, Royal Queensland’s Bowen saw an opportunity to push ahead of his rivals.
“You could fly it at the flag a bit more. With wedges you could attack it heaps,” he said.
That aggression was the driving force behind his leading round that included four birdies.
“I kept it pretty solid all day. Short game was pretty crucial. I didn’t hit it amazing. I just got up-and-down from everywhere it seemed like,” he said.
“The front nine wasn’t too bad because the rain wasn’t that bad, but towards the end it was getting heavier. The bunkers got really soft and soggy so you had to stay out of those - I went in the bunker on 17 and I had a bogey.”
Like Hammett, the 17-year-old impressed at Cranbourne last week despite a final round fade out and he was brimming with confidence as a result.
“I played pretty well at Aussie Am last week, but had a bit of a shocker in the last round. I was five-under for the tournament, but had seven-over in the last round,” he said.
“It was cool to play but I’d rather this afternoon’s rain than the strong winds blowing on that last day!”
Behind Bowan are a logjam of six players locked at two-under and five of them came from the morning field.
Queenslander Manato Nakatini is the lone player from the afternoon in that bunch with Singaporean Daryl Low, Indian Aarav Shah, West Australian Joseph Buttress, New Zealander Joshua Bai and Victorian Tyler Talbot all gaining their share of second place in the morning.
A further shot back in a tie for eighth are defending champion Jeffrey Guan, Victorian Max Fedmowski and New South Welshman Shashank Koirala.
Only five players in the girls field broke par, but Queeslander Yuuki Takada and West Australian Sheridan Clancy put the pressure on Hammett at four-under par.
Reigning champion Jeneath Wong is two shot backs from them alongside New Zealander Darae Chung.
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