24 Feb 2022 | Professional golf | Women and girls |

Kim keen for fresh challenge

by Dane Heverin

Grace Kim during her T4 finish at TPS Murray River.
Grace Kim during her T4 finish at TPS Murray River.

The summer of golf adopts a new look and feel this week with Australia’s best young female talent descending on Sandy Golf Links for The Athena.

The two-day tournament is back for a second year after unveiling its unique format - that consists of one day of skills challenges before match play decides the champion on day two - at Coolangatta Tweed Heads Golf Club in 2021.

Twelve players are taking part, but only LPGA Tour-bound Karis Davidson, Stephanie Bunque, Julienne Soo and Sarah Wilson are returning from last year.

Amateur stars Kelsey Bennett and Kirsten Rudgeley are among the new faces in this year’s line-up as is rookie professional Grace Kim, but despite coming off a tie for fourth at TPS Murray River last week the Sydneysider is not brimming with confidence ahead of this weekend.

“We’re all a bit scared to be honest,” she said. 

“Apart from the girls who played last year we’re all a bit scared of the challenges. Once we do the rehearsal tomorrow and get the gist of what we’re doing we’ll be able to gain some confidence.”

Kim, 21, and the remainder of the field got a taste of what to expect from the skills challenges on Wednesday and she was a bit thrown off by what was asked of them.

“I’m not really that skilful,” she said with a laugh.

“Yesterday we were doing a ladies clinic and we were put on a hole to do a mystery challenge. They were telling us to hit pitching wedges, 7-iron and hybrids from 60m out. It was just a standard chip shot but because of the clubs we were using it was so difficult. 

“It was such a challenge. Normally you just go with what you’re comfortable with so it’s definitely out of your comfort zone.

“I’ll take it on but I’m definitely going to practise this afternoon.”

Another aspect of the tournament that has been a new experience for Kim and her colleagues has been the promotional opportunities.

On Thursday morning, the players were taken to URBNSURF in Melbourne to shoot content for social media and the weekend’s broadcast and Kim loved it.

“They’ve been really good at organising a lot of fun activities for us. I think it’s really good preparation media-wise,” she said.

“It’s a bit of a loose week with things like surfing but being able to have a week off from a 72-hole tournament is definitely different but in a good way.

“I think there’s a good bunch of us girls to get our profiles out there. We’re quite lucky to have this opportunity so I’m pretty grateful to be in the field this week.”

Tournament format:

Saturday (Golf Challenge Day) - players have one shot each at nine different challenges with points awarded to decide the eight who will progress to day two. The challenges are designed to test the players’ accuracy, power, scrambling and putting.

Sunday - the top-eight face-off in seeded matches over three holes with a ‘Putt Off’ to decide any ties.

The field:

Cassie Porter (QLD)

Grace Kim (NSW)

Grace Lennon (VIC)

Hanee Song (NZ)

Jade Shellback (VIC)

Julienne Soo (VIC)

Karis Davidson (QLD)

Kelsey Bennett (NSW) (a)

Kirsten Rudgeley (WA) (a)

Molly McLean (VIC) (a)

Sarah Wilson (QLD) (a)

Stephanie Bunque (VIC)

You can watch all the action from The Athena on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo Sports from 12:30pm-4:30pm AEDT on Saturday 26 February and Sunday 27 February.

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