25 Mar 2022 | Amateur golf |

Peirce, McKinney dominate at Royal Adelaide

by Dane Heverin

West Australian Connor McKinney and South Australian Caitlin Peirce with the South Australian Amateur Classic and Rene Erichsen Salver trophies.
West Australian Connor McKinney and South Australian Caitlin Peirce with the South Australian Amateur Classic and Rene Erichsen Salver trophies.

West Australian Connor McKinney and hometown hero Cailtin Peirce blew away the competition to take out the South Australia Amateur Classic and the Rene Erichsen Salver at Royal Adelaide on Friday.

Peirce navigated her home course to near perfection in her six stroke win, while McKinney marched to a nine shot victory.

Both winners finished 18-under for the tournament, but they reached that number in different fashion.

Peirce pieced together four consistent rounds of 69, 68, 69 and 68 before saving her best for last with a final round that included two eagles and four birdies.

She began the final day with a three shot lead - despite New Zealand’s Fiona Xu equalling the course record with a round of 66 on Thursday - and an eagle at the par-5 second all but assured that it would be a victory parade from there on.

“I was really just going for birdie and the putt just happened to go in,” she said of that eagle.

She went for more birdies, and they came, at the sixth, eighth, ninth and tenth before another eagle, this time at the par-5 15th, capped off her scintillating home course performance that tasted very sweet.

“Playing at Royal Adelaide made it a bit better. There were a whole bunch of local members that came out for the week and there were a few more that came out today,” Peirce said.

“It was good because I knew the sort of scores I could shoot around there and I knew what it was like if it got tough, which it didn’t, but it made it that much easier knowing where I could make birdies.

The win is Peirce’s third of the season following her triumphs at the Tasmanian Amateur Championship and the Tasmanian Open Championship, and she said the last few months is “definitely the best I’ve ever played”.

For McKinney, this victory is a drought breaker.

The West Australian has an impressive resume - he represented Australia at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship last year and is an Australian Medallist as winner of the stroke play section of the Australian Amateur in 2018 - but he was thrilled to have that elusive win finally on his list of accolades.

“I’m feeling a bit of relief, a bit of happiness, a bit of everything. I’m glad that all the work I’ve put in has come together for a win,” he said.

“It was kind of frustrating not having won yet, but I had a lot of belief it would come so I just kept putting in the work.

“The past few days I hit a lot of good shots, I gave myself a lot of good looks and the floodgates opened. I felt like it was only a matter of time until I got that breakthrough win.”

After a solid start shooting 68 and 69 in the first two rounds, the floodgates did open in the third when McKinney broke the course record with a nine-under 63 that included ten birdies.

He then backed it up on the final morning with four straight birdies to kick off the day, and he was delighted with his consistency across the week.

“Being able to string good rounds together, with the course record thrown in there, that’s definitely the best four consecutive rounds of golf I’ve played,” McKinney said.

Both winners now head to next week’s Australian Amateur at Cranbourne Golf Club in Melbourne for a shot at the national title.

Final leaderboard

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