12 Nov 2021 | Amateur golf |

Bennett sizes up big stakes in UAE

by Golf Australia

Kelsey Bennett UAE day 2 image
Kelsey Bennett on her way to a second-round 67 in Abu Dhabi.

Australia's Kelsey Bennett has her sights on some big prizes as she enters the final two rounds of the Women's Asia-Pacific championship in contention. The 21-year-old from the south coastal New South Wales town of Milton made four birdies on the back nine to push herself up into a tie for second at the end of the second round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates. She will play in the final group in round three with the leader, Thailand's Natthakritta Vongtaveelap, and Japan's Mizuki Hashimoto. Vongtaveelap, who shot a bogey-free 68 today after leading through the first round, has a two-shot buffer on her playing partners. Another Australian, Queenslander Cassie Porter, is tied-fifth just two shots farther back after carding a 69 today. Perth's Maddison Hinson Tolchard is well back in the field after rounds of 73-73, while June Song (NSW) and Isabelle Taylor (SA) missed the halfway cut. Bennett, who made her name at Mollymook Golf Club and in the elite programs of Golf New South Wales, shot a five-under par 67 to go with her opening-round 69, but it was not always apparent that she would prosper. She was even-par through seven holes of the second round but birdies at the eighth, 10th, 12th, 16th and 18th set up her run. "I was struggling on the front nine," she said afterward. "Putting just didn't feel quite right, but I got the hang of it on the back nine. I birdied 10, and it just sort of started me off. Hit a few close wedges, which were handy." Bennett, who won the NSW Stroke Play title this year, said a conversation with her coach John Serhan about the need to get the ball close from the 50-70 metre range had helped her results. However she refused to enter any speculation about the chances of earning a spot in the 2022 professional majors that is on offer this week in Abu Dhabi. "Sort of. This is my first major amateur event, so I haven't really thought about it too much which is obviously a good thing. So I'll keep it that way." Porter, 20, recent winner of the Keperra Bowl and boasting a great recovery from a bad back injury, shot the lights out in the second round with six birdies, although she was disappointed with her putting on the day. "If I just stick to my processes and do what I've been doing the last three days, hopefully everything will line up, and it will be alright." Vongtaveelap, a prolific winner in her home country, stayed steady at the top. “I was not as nervous as I was in the first round," she said. "The first round gave me more confidence and I played very good golf and hit some very good shots during the round. It was my goal to try and shoot a four-under round today and I am happy I achieved it.” The winner this week earns a start in the 2022 the AIG Women’s Open and The Amundi Evian Championship -as well as the Hana Financial Group Championship and an invitation to play in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Leaderboard

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