23 Dec 2021 | Professional golf | Amateur golf |
Watt, Kim win inaugural Sandbelt Invitational
by Dane Heverin
West Australian Brady Watt and New South Welshwoman Grace Kim were crowned the inaugural professional men's and women's Sandbelt Invitational champions at Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club today.
Watt shot a one-under par final round of 70 to finish six strokes clear of Jediah Morgan, while Kim's one-over par round of 74 was enough to hold off LPGA player Su Oh by four strokes.
Both winners entered the day with sizeable leads - Watt five shots and Kim eight shots - which they used to their advantage to safely navigate the South Course's difficult layout.
Watt, 31, all but secured the victory by the turn as he walked to the 10th tee even-par for the day to ward off any potential challengers.
Throughout the back nine he traded birdies and bogeys, but he saved his best for last.
The West Australian, who has relocated to Melbourne, soaked in the winning moment as he walked down the 18th fairway with a strong crowd beside him before holing his birdie putt to put an exclamation mark on his performance.
"Waited a long time to be a winner, a four round event, my first as a pro, extremely satisfying,” Watt said.
“The icing on the cake was holing the putt on the last. It’s interesting, I didn’t know all day until walking up the last that I had a five-shot lead, and my fiancé told me. It is a weird feeling standing over the putt thinking, ‘You might as well make it’. That grandstand finish, everyone wants that feeling, it is the best feeling.”
In the same group was 21-year-old Kim, who has impressed mightily since turning professional in September.
The Sydneysider was never seriously challenged despite Oh's three-under par round and she ensured there would be no slip ups by making back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th.
From there she had a slight hiccup with a bogey at the next, but two pars to finish allowed her to take it all in.
“I just wanted to play to par. I didn’t want to get too greedy, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to back away,” Kim said.
“I think this is definitely an eye opener for where my game is at the moment. I am really looking forward to all the summer events. I guess, bring it on.”
Crowds walking the course with the players was a key part of the tournament and recent PGA Tour winner Lucas Herbert was full of praise for the festive atmosphere befitting of the season.
"If I was an Australian playing overseas anywhere, and you were coming home for Christmas, there would be no reason why you wouldn’t want to play this event," Herbert said.
"It’s so relaxed. It’s just such an easy event to play. There’s no cut, there’s no ropes. It’s quite friendly out there and the golf courses are great. It’s just such a great event to end the year."
Herbert and fellow Victorian Su Oh played in front of family and friends for the first time in a long time this week, while many locally based players also had strong support from family, friends and fellow club members.
The players were happily chatting with spectators while walking to their balls and the welcoming nature of the event was clear for all to see.
As was the outstanding condition of the four host venues: Kingston Heath, Royal Melbourne, Yarra Yarra and Peninsula Kingswood, which Herbert spoke glowingly of.
“Every course this week has really embraced having the tournament and set it up tough. Not just on the day either," he said.
"It feels like they’ve prepped the golf course for weeks in advance and we’ve come out and they’ve looked amazing. They’ve looked tournament ready."
Meanwhile, New South Welshmen Jye Pickin and Victorian Jeneath Wong finished atop of the men's and women's amateur standings.
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