16 Jun 2020 | Professional golf | Feature stories |
Great Australian Moments 15: Oh so memorable
by Martin Blake
Su Oh’s story is the story of modern Australia, and increasingly, of golf in this country.
Oh’s family emigrated from South Korea when she was seven years old, and she well remembers the early days, sitting in class at primary school in Melbourne with limited English, trying to fit into a new culture as Su-Hyun Oh.
But she had a resilient character and a personable way that drew people to her. Golf proved to be her thing, and at just 12 years old, she qualified to play against the professionals in a Women’s Australian Open at Metropolitan.
She would join Minjee Lee and Shelly Shin to win a world amateur championship for Australia in 2014. Clearly, Australia had the best bunch of young female players it had ever produced, and the successors to Karrie Webb’s crown as the preeminent female player in the country had arrived in a cluster.
Oh was at the head of the group. At 18, she drew all the pieces together and won just her second start as a professional, the 2015 Australian Ladies Masters at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast which, along with Lee’s 2014 victory in the Vic Open as a 17-year-old amateur, goes down as one of the great triumphs of Australian women’s golf by young players.
Oh birdied the last four holes to win it, and it is worth remembering that the now-defunct Ladies Masters was no snack. It was co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour in 2015, and past winners included Webb (eight times), Annika Sorenstam and Laura Davies (three times each).
The Melburnian had a close and fruitful association with Webb, who has become a mentor and guiding hand to many young female players through her scholarship squad. Oh had been a member of that squad a few months earlier, travelling to a tournament with Webb to see how she handled it first-hand, and the greatest of all Australian female players texted her the night before the final round at Royal Pines.
“I spoke to Karrie,” she said after her closing 69, four-under par, gave her a three-shot win. “I asked her: ‘what do I need to do, you’ve won this eight times’.’’
She also drew strength from Jane Crafter, a previous Masters winner, who was working as a television commentator at the event. “I spoke to Jane this morning who won it the year I was born (1996)," she said. "What she said really helped me on the golf course. She just said 'take one shot at a time’.’’
Oh was a shot behind England’s Charley Hull when the final round began, but Hull struggled to an even-par 73, and the Victorian found the lead with a birdie at the 15th, then hit the pin with an iron shot to set up another at the 17th. Two great shots to the mid-length par-five 18th meant that she would write down four consecutive birdies to finish.
That’s when the tears came, and Oh paid an emotional tribute to her father, Seok-Gu (otherwise known as SG), who was on her bag that afternoon. “He sacrificed everything for me,” she said.
The post-script is worth noting. Oh picked up a two-year exemption to play on the LET with her win, but never took it up. She had her eyes on the LPGA Tour, based in America, and qualified soon afterward. She has played four full seasons on the toughest tour in the world, has represented Australia at the Olympic Games, but she is still seeking her second win.
It can’t be too far away.
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