02 Feb 2022 | Professional golf |
Rising stars to rock Rosebud
by Dane Heverin
Stephanie Kyriacou and Elvis Smylie have never been ones to shy away from the spotlight and this week at The Players Series Victoria will be no exception as they take their place on centre stage.
Kyriacou, 21, is the highest ranked female player in the field at number 76 in the world and it is the first time she will play in Australia as both an LPGA player and the top ranked player in the field.
Such status comes with added expectation, and a larger following around the golf course, but the Sydneysider is simply focused on getting back to competitive golf after a bout of COVID-19 which ruled her out of the Australian WPGA Championship and delayed the start of her year.
“I’m quite excited. I haven’t played an event in like six weeks so I’m definitely a bit nervous, but it’ll be nice to play in front of Aussie crowds again,” Kyriacou said.
“I think my game is trending. I’m just trying to get back into tournament golf really.
“The weather forecast is looking quite windy so I think it’ll be a challenge for everyone to see who can stay calm and make pars.”
Kyriacou’s journey across the globe in the past two years make her one of the more experienced women’s golfers in the field and she has made it her mission to help her younger competitors where possible.
One of the unique elements of TPS Victoria is that the players will play alongside juniors who are competing for the 36-hole junior title across the weekend, but Kyriacou did not wait until the weekend.
She took some of the juniors out on course for a practice round on Tuesday and tried to bring them out of their shells.
“I try to be more of a friend than a mentor,” she said.
“When I was a junior I played with Karrie Webb and Laura Davies and I did not ask them anything because I was so scared.
“So I just try to be really friendly to make them more comfortable, but it’s definitely a good experience for them.”
Smylie, 19, is fresh out of juniors himself but experiences like going toe-to-toe with reigning PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winner Brad Kennedy at this event last year - Smylie finished runner-up - means he possesses wisdom beyond his years.
“I wasn’t in that situation that long ago,” Smylie said of the juniors playing this weekend.
“I’m still almost a junior. If they ask any questions, I’m more than happy to help.”
The Queenslander’s focus is firmly on going one better than last year however, and he is determined to become the latest rising star - after Blake Windred, Jack Thompson and Jed Morgan - to get the monkey off his back and register a maiden professional victory this summer.
“It’s always great coming back here to Rosebud. The crowd is always pretty good here and there is a lot of support so it’ll be nice to see a couple of people out there,” he said.
“Playing the Australian PGA and the Queensland PGA was good practice and it was good to play some competitive golf in the lead up to this week. I’ll use what I learned there those two weeks and hope to play some good golf.”
Follow all the action from TPS Victoria on pga.org.au or via the PGA Tour of Australasia app.
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