06 Apr 2022 | Amateur golf |
#AusJnr R2: Leaderboard logjam opens up title race
by Dane Heverin
Low scores were few and far between on windy Wednesday at the Australian Junior Amateur as both the boys and girls contenders locked themselves into a tight tussle at The Vines of Reynella.
Overnight leader Sarah Hammett is still atop of the girls leaderboard at five-under after her even-par round and she is now joined there by West Australian Sheridan Clancy who shot one-under today.
Another West Australian, Joseph Buttress, stayed steady to capture the boys lead with an even-par round of 71. He remained two-under for the tournament, but the day belonged to New South Welshman Jake Riley who was the only boy to break par with his five-under par effort.
Riley moved into a tie for fourth at one-over courtesy of his stunning performance, which was all the more remarkable considering his lack of golf on an actual course leading into the tournament.
“My preparation probably hasn’t been the best. In New South Wales we haven’t had great weather at all,” he said.
“I’ve been doing my best. Luckily we’ve got a simulator so I’ve been there but I played on Saturday at Newcastle and that was the first comp game I’ve played in about three weeks.”
Prior to that the Pymble member last teed it up in a multi-round tournament at the Concord Cup in February, but not being as battle-hardened as his rivals did not phase him.
“Yesterday was weird. My score wasn’t very good but I didn’t feel like I played that bad. I just couldn’t hole any putts and I didn’t drive it straight,” he said.
“So that was my goal today to drive it straight and I’ve done that. The putts fell in too so it was nice to have a good round.”
Buttress on the other hand found the day to be more of an arm wrestle, but crucially he did not give into the struggle.
“It was a really steady day today. I didn’t do much right, but I didn’t do much wrong either,” he said.
“There were some tougher flags out there and it got windy this afternoon.”
The 16-year-old is a proven winner already with victory last year at the South Australian Amateur and two triumphs this year at the Tasmanian Junior Amateur and the Tasmanian Junior Masters, and he is confident he can tap into those experiences in the coming days.
“I’ve been in this position a little bit but not in an Australian Junior before! So I’m excited. I think I can do pretty well,” he said.
Queenslander Hammett was left to rue two late slip ups at the seventh and eighth - she teed off from the tenth - however the 15-year-old was not going to let that spoil her mood.
“I was feeling pretty confident coming into this week but I didn’t really expect to be in this position,” she said.
“I’m pretty excited to be in the final group tomorrow. I’m just going to go out and make some birdies and see what happens over the next two days.”
Clancy was one of five girls to shoot one-under today as she was noticeably relaxed despite the trying conditions. At many stages it appeared as if she was more concerned by how the wind was going to impact her bucket hat than her golf ball.
The Lake Karrinyup member was still supremely focused however, as she was motivated by a morning phone call from her father back home.
“I was a bit nervous this morning. I talked to my dad on the phone on the range which was nice to catch up. I’ve been struggling a bit off the tee lately with alignment so he just asked me ‘feeling good?’ and he told me to ‘bring Sheridan back’,” she said.
“Through nine I was like ‘just go for it. You’re playing good golf but the putts just aren’t dropping’. So I did that and I did pretty good.”
Two shots back from Clancy and Hammett are New Zealander Darae Chung and defending champion Jeneath Wong who both shot one-under second rounds.
Reigning boys champion Jeffrey Guan is in second place at one-under after matching Buttress’ even-par effort today, and New Zealander Joshua Bai rounds out the top-three at even-par following his two-over round.
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