07 Apr 2022 | Amateur golf |
#AusJnr R3: Reigning champions take control
by Dane Heverin
The Australian Junior Amateur reigning champions, Jeffrey Guan and Jeneath Wong, stamped their authority on the competition to grab the lead in a thrilling third round at The Vines of Reynella.
Wong showed her class with the round of day - a four-under 69 - to jump ahead of overnight co-leaders Sarah Hammett and Sheridan Clancy, while Guan’s one-under round ebbed and flowed but it was enough to secure top spot.
The New South Welshman sits at two-under for the tournament, just one shot stroke clear of Queenslander Billy Dowling. Wong on the other hand opened up a three stroke advantage from Hammett, who she played with today, and she credited the friendly nature of their group that also included Clancy for her stunning performance today.
“I was kind of playing not that serious today. I was just playing for fun and I didn’t even realise that I was playing well,” Wong said.
“I felt like it was just fun. We were a relaxed group and playing together again tomorrow will be good.”
She will step up to the tee tomorrow carrying crucial momentum that she gathered in this afternoon’s closing stretch. The 17-year-old made six birdies for the day with the two that came at the 15th and 18th proving most crucial.
Those pushed her ahead of Hammett and now she is ready to harness the good memories of her triumph at Gold Creek last year to bring home the trophy again - only after she completes some study in the morning first.
“I’ve missed a test for all of my subjects this week so I’ve got plenty of study to do. But being the defending champion definitely fills me with confidence and I think it will motivate me a bit more tomorrow,” Wong said.
Fellow reigning champion Guan is also full of belief following last year’s experience and is keeping his focus entirely inward.
“It gives me lots of confidence knowing that I did do it last year and I definitely have the chance to do it again this year. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’ve said it many times but I’m just going to play my own game and not worry about anything else that’s happening,” he said.
His trust in his own game was on show for all to see today. The 17-year-old carded four birdies and three bogeys as the course’s hilly layout with lots of trees challenged him on numerous occasions, but his methodical approach held him in good stead.
The best example of which was his par on the 18th to ensure that he entered the clubhouse with the lead. After sending his tee shot so far that right that he had to punch it out through the trees, Guan had no issue nailing a low bullet that rolled up a gully onto the back of the green - where he duly two putted.
“I headed out to the course today just hoping to hit the ball a bit straighter compared to the first two days and I did pretty well with that,” he said.
“I hit it into the trees a few times though and had to hit some low punches out, but thankfully I hit them well and I was able to two putt. I left a few out there with my putting though so that’ll be a focus for tomorrow.”
Guan will be joined by Queenslanders Dowling and Kai Komulainen - who shot the round of the day alongside 14-year-old West Australian Ollie Marsh with a two-under 69 - in the final group tomorrow.
That pair are rooming together this week and next week - for the Australian Junior Interstate Team Matches also being played in Adelaide - and they are both eager to gain bragging rights over one another with victory tomorrow.
The story of the day however, came from the morning field when 11-year-old Camilla Kim from Lynwood in New South Wales shot one-under par for the first time in her life. She made four birdies and admitted to being nervy in her last few holes as she was desperate to stay under par.
She was one of only three girls to break par for the day - Wong and Queenslander Haruhi Nakatini were the other two - and her effort ensured that she made the cut for tomorrow’s final round where she will play alongside the youngest girl in the field, 10-year-old South Australian Katie Seol.
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