21 Nov 2023 | Professional golf |
Teen stuns field at Women's NSW Open qualifier
By David Tease, Golf NSW
Teenager Rachel Lee has earmarked herself as a star of the future with a thrilling sudden-death playoff win in the 2023 Women’s NSW Open Golf Regional Qualifying tournament at Mollymook. The 16-year-old year 10 student from Avondale Golf Club held her nerve over the final holes around the testing Hilltop to force herself into the playoff. With Queenslander Rhianna Lewis and Sydneysider Chizuru Ueda in the clubhouse at 1-under, Lee came to the last needing a birdie. She didn’t disappoint, first by splitting the fairway with one of the drives of the day, then following it up with a peerless hybrid from 168 metres to reach the green before two-putting for birdie to book her playoff spot. Lee admitted a playoff was the last thing on her mind. “I had no idea where I was on the last, to be honest, but it was a short par-5, and I knew I could make a birdie; that’s all I was thinking about, I was just trying to do my best.” Then, with a large gallery surrounding the playoff hole (the par-3 ninth), Lee calmly slotted a 6-iron from 150 metres to about 40 feet for a two-putt par to claim her first victory against a professional field. “This course is a very hard course to manage, and I think I did it pretty well,” Lee said after her win. The youngest player in the field, Lee admitted she tried to treat it as a regular round despite being paired alongside her childhood coach and one of her golfing heroes, Sarah Oh. “I’ve played with Sarah a couple of times, so I was relaxed; there was a bit more pressure, but it was fun to play with the others.” The win is also the biggest of her young career, and locking away a place in the 2024 NSW Women’s Open felt particularly special. “I’m looking forward to playing at Magenta Shores. It is a great course, I’m very honored. and this is a very special moment for me,” she beamed. Although beaten in a playoff, Sydney’s Chizuru Ueda was delighted that her place in the 2024 NSW Women’s Open Golf Championship was secure. Despite losing the playoff, the 29-year-old, who has been on tour for about five years, said she was happy with how she played.
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