11 Feb 2023 | Professional golf |
Porter's eagle puts her on top again at 13th
by Martin Blake
Young Australian Cassie Porter conjured a stunning eagle at the 18th green to secure the Vic Open lead for the third consecutive day at 13th Beach today, a grandstand finish to an up-and-down day. The emerging 20-year-old professional from the Sunshine Coast is trying to go wire-to-wire on the Bellarine Peninsula, but she had conceded her outright lead when she bogeyed the par-4 16th hole today when her approach skated through the back of the green, and Korean superstar Jiyai Shin birdied the 18th up ahead. Porter steeled herself, parred the 17th, and then hit a pure four iron approach shot to the shadow of the flagstick at the last, once again emphasising the enormous upside that she has. When the putt for eagle rolled in, the crowd around the green roared and she ventured a fist pump. At 15-under she will take a two-shot lead into Sunday’s final round from dual major champion and former world No. 1 Shin and Thailand’s Pavarisa Yoktuan at 13-under. Kiwi Michael Hendry has a strong grip on the men’s tournament, having ground out a 3-under par 69 in much more difficult conditions on the Beach course today. At 21-under, his closest pursuer at 18-under is Sydney’s Justin Warren who was brilliant with a 5-under 67 today. There are a bunch of players still in contention behind that, including young Australian pro Elvis Smylie, New South Welshman Aaron Townsend, and boom South Australian amateur Jack Buchanan.
However they will need to go very low tomorrow to catch Hendry, who has been remarkably steady in his chase of a first Australasian win since the 2017 New Zealand Open. Porter began the day with her ever-present smile and a five-shot lead, but she quickly found difficulty – a hooked tee-shot at the first, a penalty drop and a bogey, another shot given back at the third and then a further penalty drop from the mulga and a bogey at the fourth.
Suddenly the lead was trimmed to one with Shin and American Emma Talley threatening. But she is made of stern stuff, this young woman from Peregian Springs Golf Club who has been a frequent winner as an amateur and a recent first-time winner as a professional at the Latrobe tournament in Melbourne. “I (was thinking) just need to find my centre again, the form I’ve had the last few days,” she said. “It was a matter of bringing myself back: ‘Okay no one’s in control except me. I need to do what I can do’. It worked out in the end.” At the par-5 18th hole which hooks around swampland, she hit a good drive and put herself in range for a four-iron approach, which she flushed. “Quite a finish,” she said. “I kind of needed to pull something out of the bag. It was tricky out there on the course, super windy and the wind was swirling and I’m happy to come out even-par. “We were kind of thinking it was a little bit short, but adrenaline … you know, it kind of got there. And it was nice to hole the putt to finish.” Porter will play in the final group for the third time this week alongside Shin, who has won 60-plus tournaments worldwide and twice in majors. “I look forward to it, especially in Victoria where I never had a win,” she said. Like Porter, Hendry was not always dominant, but he managed to extend the two-shot lead that he began with.
His big moment came at the par-4 14th where his tee shot scuttled through the dogleg and into the mulga down the left, forcing him into a penalty drop. He took a double bogey 6 but he immediately made an up-and-down for birdie from the greenside trap at the par-4 15th, and he sleeps on the lead again. “I’m pretty old now so I should be mature enough to say ‘these things happen’ and just move on,” he said. “Easier said than done, but I’m pretty happy with the way I finished.” Hervey Bay golfer Lachlan Wood has seized the early lead in the Victorian Inclusive Championships. With a field of 48 players teeing it up on the Creek course, by far the biggest field seen in this event, Wood rattled around in 76 to lead by five shots after round one.
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