10 Jul 2024 | Amateur golf |

State Junior titles for Harrison and Leniartek

by Golf WA

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Spencer Harrison and Isabella Leniartek with their historic trophies.

Spencer Harrison and Isabella Leniartek have joined the likes of Hannah Green, Kirsten Rudgeley, Stephen Leaney and Min Woo Lee in winning the Drummond Golf Junior Amateur Championships of WA.

In blustery and, at times, squally conditions at Gosnells Golf Club, Harrison and Leniartek achieved their victories in vastly different, but no less impressive, styles.

Fresh from her success at last week’s Cobra Puma Junior Championship, Mount Lawley’s Leniartek simply blew the field away in the girls’ event, romping to a mammoth victory with a one-under-par 36-hole total.

Royal Perth’s Harrison, meanwhile, demonstrated great poise to break a deadlock with Declan Pereira (The Vines) with a nerveless birdie on the 18th to capture the most significant win of his career to date.

Leniartek in a league of her own

Fifteen-year-old Leniartek’s upward trajectory shows no sign of slowing after a truly dominant display at Gosnells. Opening her account for the tournament with a first-hole birdie on Monday, Leniartek never looked back and led the field by six strokes after her level-par first 18.

On a course that yielded few birdies, Leniartek’s course management, crisp iron play and hot putter left her leagues ahead of the rest as she accelerated away from the field on day two on her way to a one-under-par round of 71.

She ended the event as the only player under par for the championship in either field, recording an incredible 13-stroke winning margin ahead of joint runners-up Aileen Sirait (Gosnells GC) and Chloe Veeran (Busselton GC).

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Isabella Leniartek is congratulated on her win by Halia Edwards

In a season that has already seen her win numerous junior opens, the Cobra Puma and all seven of her matches in the junior and open-age Interstate Teams Matches, Leniartek now hopes to show she has what it takes to beat the nation’s best in her own backyard.

“My goal is to do well at the upcoming Bowra & O’Dea Women’s Classic and Mandurah Open Amateur, because that’s when some of the best eastern states players come over to WA,” she told GolfWA.

“I haven’t had that many opportunities to see where my game is in comparison to theirs, but if I’m playing the way I am now, I feel like I can definitely compete with the eastern state golfers.”

Hard work pays off for Harrison

Having missed last week’s Cobra Puma Junior Championship due to making his Australian international debut in a Ryder Cup-style clash against the USA in Wisconsin, Harrison was considered one of the hot favourites here.

One of four joint leaders after a level-par 70 on day one, 15-year-old Harrison was involved in a fascinating tussle with Declan Pereira, Riley Bell (Mandurah CC) and Jackson Tait (Joondalup CC) over the opening nine holes of their closing round.

The lead swapped hands several times before Harrison and Pereira pulled clear of the chasing pack down the back-stretch. And when Harrison made bogey on 17 to drop into a share of the lead with Pereira at +2 for the championship, a grandstand finish was assured.

Both players missed the 18th fairway and played for position with their second shots before both hit approaches to within 10 feet. Crucially, Harrison was below the hole and confidently stroked home the putt for a clutch birdie to heap the pressure on his rival.

Faced with a tricky downhiller to take the title to a playoff, Pereira’s effort slid past the hole, as did his subsequent par putt. He held onto second, however, four shots clear of Liam Sullivan (The Vines) and Nate Johnson (Joondalup CC).

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Ice-cool: Spencer Harrison holes a clutch birdie putt on the final hole

Despite being a perennial contender in state and national events, Harrison acknowledged that this win is his most significant individual achievement to date.

“It’s nice to finally get one through,” he told GolfWA. “I’ve had a lot of top threes and top fives over the past year, and was runner-up in the state amateur, so to be able to close it out with a birdie when it mattered means a lot to me.”

The win will also bolster Harrison’s chances of topping the 2024 Australian Boys Order of Merit, which he currently leads. “If I keep playing the way I am, I think I have quite a good chance of winning that,” he added.

Interestingly, Harrison’s victory comes 30 years after his coach Brett Rumford won the same event. If history continues to repeat itself, Harrison can look forward to a long and distinguished career at the top level.

You can view the final leaderboards from the girls’ and boys’ championships here.

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