15 Dec 2020 | Amateur golf |

Rudgeley's double, Crowe breaks through

by Martin Blake

Kirsten Rudgeley and Harrison Crowe_image

Kirsten Rudgeley did the rare double while Harrison Crowe secured his biggest win at the Victorian Amateur finals at Metropolitan today.

Perth’s Rudgeley beat Jeneath Wong 3 and 2 in the women’s final to back up her win in the Port Phillip Open Amateur, which serves as the qualifying for the Victorian Amateur, last weekend.

Sydney’s Crowe dominated Western Australian Joshua Greer in the men’s final, winning 6 and 5. Although the 19-year-old from St Michael’s Golf Club has previously won the Asia Pacific boys’ title, he said the Victorian Amateur trophy was his most significant.

Rudgeley, 19, made a solid par at the long par-four 15th hole to clinch her win over 16-year Wong, the Malay-born star who has won the past three club championships at Metropolitan.

She had been five up through 10 holes of the second 18, but a short missed par putt on the par-three 11th – “It was a brain error, I think” – gifted Wong that hole and then the Victorian made a long bomb for birdie on the par-three 13th to get it back to three down.

At the par-five 14th the Western Australian snap hooked her second shot and ended up conceding another hole so that she was only two-up. But par at the next was enough to finish it. “I got a bit wobbly, I think,” said Rudgeley. But I played steady all day, really.’’

Rudgeley plays off a plus-six handicap at Mt Lawley, home club of Hannah Green, with whom she is close friends. She was born in England but emigrated with her parents when she was three.

She is the first player since Stephanie Bunque in 2017 to win the Port Phillip and the Victorian Amateur in the same year.

Winner of the past three WA Amateurs, she is one of the best amateur players in the country and only getting better. “It’s nice to be able to do it somewhere else besides WA,” she said, adding that she is beginning to grasp the nuances of the Melbourne sandbelt.

“I love it,” she said. “These courses are awesome. Mt Lawley’s nothing like this. Even this is a different golf course to Commonwealth (venue for two rounds of qualifying). You have to adapt your game pretty quickly.’’

Crowe was on fire in the first half of the men’s final, reaching six-under par through the first 18 holes as they went to lunch, three up on Joondalup’s Joshua Greer. Then the cool change came and the wind turned, and the course was a different beast.

At the par-four ninth, Crowe hit an exquisite chip from an awkward spot right of the green, working it off a ridge and back to the flag to win a hole that proved significant, since he’d hit his tee shot into the trees.

The pair slugged it out until the par-four 13th (the 12th on the course) in the afternoon, where the New South Welshman closed it out with a short birdie putt. “This morning, Josh and I really ground each other out and drained ourselves for this afternoon,” he said later. “Then the wind switched, and it was a lot harder to score. It became a lot more par golf. It was super tough.”

Crowe said he felt vindicated for his hard work. “It’s a great finish to the year,” he said. “It (2020) has been pretty ordinary but it’s something to build on in the future.’’

With the Master of the Amateurs and the Australian Amateur in the new year, Crowe, who started his golf at Bardwell Valley near his home suburb of Bexley in south-west Sydney, has plenty to look forward to. He believes he is improving.

“I can feel it,” he said. “Even before this week, I set the bar pretty high. I had to dig deep in the strokeplay. I was outside top 10 and then I had a nice round Saturday, found something and finished third, and kept it rolling into the matchplay.”

It ended a long week of golf that included a drama in the semi-final on Monday where Crowe suffered from a sudden nose bleed. He and his opponent had to call the group behind through as he sought treatment and the bleeding eventually stopped in time for him to complete the win. “I was glad I didn’t get my white shorts dirty. Everything else was dirty.”

Fatigue was a factor today. “My feet are dead,” he said. “It’s mentally draining more than physically draining. That’ll kick in soon. I need to stack up on the rest.’’

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