27 Jan 2021 | Professional golf |

Bunque preps for pro debut

by Contributor

Steph  Bunque Players Series image
Long bomber Steph Bunque makes her pro debut this week. Photo: Australasian PGA Tour, WPGA

By Tony Webeck, Australasian PGA Tour

A sharp eye scanning the tee sheet and a direct message on Instagram has landed Stephanie Bunque a valuable ally as she enters the professional ranks at the inaugural event of The Players Series at Rosebud Country Club this week. A member at Victoria Golf Club, Bunque spotted Geoff Ogilvy’s name on the tee sheet last year and reached out to the former US Open champion who is this week serving as host at Rosebud. Paired together at the St Andrews Beach Invitational organised by Mike Clayton last June, Bunque and Ogilvy have remained in contact ever since, the 23-year-old seeking guidance before turning professional straight after finishing runner-up at the Master of the Amateurs earlier this month. “He’s been a really great help with advice on what I should do and how I should do things,” Bunque said ahead of her debut WPGA Tour event as a professional. “If I have a question and he doesn’t know the answer he’ll either source it for me or point me in the right direction. Even in the past month or so in this whole process of turning pro he’s been really great. “When is the right time? I don’t even know. In theory it sounds like a horrible time to do it (turn professional) and I totally understand that but I just couldn’t see myself playing another amateur event. “Throughout the lockdown I had a lot of time to think. I’ve always just wanted to be a professional golfer and I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to become one so I thought, Let’s just do it. And that was it.” Renowned for her length in the female amateur ranks, Bunque shapes as a genuine threat in a format that sees the men and women go head-to-head for the one prize pool. PGA of Australia tournament officials have gone to great lengths to set the course up in such a way that male and female players will be hitting the same clubs into greens, albeit from different positions on the fairway. If Bunque can use her length to go into the slick Rosebud greens with even higher lofted clubs than her competitors it will put her in position to make an immediate impression on the Australian golf scene. “From the handful of pro events that I have played, my length does stand out on its own and my ball-striking I feel is already pretty world-class,” said Bunque, who is planning to attend LPGA Tour Q School at the end of the year. “What I’ve learnt is that it really is all about the short game and putting. Anything inside 100-110 metres is really where it’s at. “I went out there (on Monday) and from what I can see I feel like there’s a chance to play aggressive. “You can go one or two ways about it. I’ll have to really decide on which way I want to approach it and back myself, whichever strategy I decide. “But there is definitely a chance to be aggressive on all the holes out there.” In his first start since the Northern Territory PGA Championship last October, Novocastrian Blake Windred qualified for the match play section of the Gippsland Super 6 before falling to Bryden Macpherson in the second round on Sunday. Excited by the prospect of playing alongside the women in a nationally televised event, Windred is well aware of the threat posed by the leading female players. “Su Oh is playing and she plays on the LPGA Tour and I know Steph Bunque hits the ball a long way so that could be a real advantage for her,” said Windred, whose plans to play the Challenge Tour in Europe were delayed 12 months due to COVID-19. “Any girls that are long hitters could definitely benefit from this week. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re right up there but they’ve still got to play golf, it’s not like it’s going to be gifted to them.” As for the one piece of advice Ogilvy has given her that she will take into this week, Bunque said it is all about the fun factor. “I played with him at Vic a couple of weeks ago and the biggest thing that I took from that conversation was to enjoy it,” said Bunque, the Victorian Female Amateur of the Year in 2017 and 2018. “Really enjoy every aspect of it and everything you do. The minute it starts to feel like a job is when you should start questioning whether this is what you want to be doing. Enjoy every single second of it and make it fun for yourself.” The Players Series Victoria hosted by Geoff Ogilvy will be broadcast on Fox Sports channel 503 and Kayo on Saturday 30 January from 2-5pm, and Sunday 31 January from 12-5pm AEDT. Broadcast details: Live on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo Saturday 30 January 2-5pm and Sunday 31 January 12-5pm AEDT

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