11 Dec 2021 | Amateur golf |
NSW double at Port Phillip Amateur
by Golf Australia
By Jodi Kelly
Victoria opened its borders and the sandbelt opened the floodgates to a host of interstate players who swept in and dominated the Port Phillip Open Amateur tournament this week.
New South Wales based 21-year-olds Chris Fan and Kelsey Bennett battled brutal conditions at Commonwealth and Kingston Heath Golf Clubs to win the 72-hole Victorian Amateur qualifier.
Fan, who is no stranger to the winner’s dais at this event, first winning it as an 18-year-old in 2018, conceded this event was among the hardest conditions he has played in.
“It’s definitely right up there with the toughest conditions I’ve ever played in, but I think it was also the best I have ever hit my irons," he said.
“It was tough, but I managed to hang in there and did enough on the greens to get the job done.”
Fan's total of 291 was two shots clear of Yarra Yarra’s Phoenix Campbell, with Heidelberg’s Toby Walker, a further two shots off the pace in third place.
St Michaels' Bennett thought she was heading for a playoff after coming down the 18th late today, believing she was all tied with eventual runner-up, Metropolitan’s Jeneath Wong. She was actually one shot clear after shooting one over par 75, for a 72-hole total of 299.
Bennett’s good friend and roommate, Belinda Ji (Concorde GC) finished third with a four-round total of 305.
“I couldn’t believe it coming down the last, I thought Jeneath and I were all tied and I was really wanting to birdie the last and both of our birdie putts lipped out – then Jeneath congratulated me – I couldn’t believe it,” the Mollymook local admitted.
Bennett’s Port Phillip win has capped off a breakout 18 months, adding to her victories in the NSW Stroke Play, the Tasmanian Open, the NT Amateur and a sensational second place finish in the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship in Abu Dhabi last month.
Since 2008 the Port Phillip tournament has been used at the qualifying event for the Victorian Amateur but in 2021, despite both courses being presented in outstanding condition, scoring was probably as tough this week as it has been for many years. The greens firmed as the wind blew and many players struggled to hole a putt, with sub-par scores a rarity across the three days.
Both Fan and Bennett will start favorite in Monday’s first matchplay rounds of the Victorian Amateur, as the event moves to the championship layout of Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club, with Bennett particularly excited, admitting matchplay is her favorite format of the game.
The top 16 men and top 16 women have all advanced to the Victorian Amateur championship. Portsea Ninja Warrior Charlie Robbins, secured the 16th place in the men’s draw, following a sudden death three-way playoff with Jake Hughes and Blade Gadd.
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