An impressive opening round three under 69 has vaulted Mollymook’s Kelsey Bennett into a tie for 5th place after the opening round of the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific Championship in Abu Dhabi.
Bennett sits in a group of eight players, including Queensland’s Cassie Porter and world number four, Korea’s Youmin Hwang, just three back from the leader, Thailand’s Natthakritta Vongtaveelap.
The 22-Year-old might have had a few nerves early on in her first foray as a national representative, almost missing her tee time, but still managed to put on an impressive display of shot-making.
“I started off nearly running late to the tee, so it wasn’t a great start,” she grinned.
Starting on the 10th hole, Bennett got off to a solid start. Putting the almost-rookie error of missing her tee-time aside, she slotted her first birdie of the day on the 324metre par-four 11th hole (her second). However, a double-bogey on the 13th (her fourth of the day) quickly brought her back to earth.
“I just had to tell myself it’s a marathon, not a race, like a sprint. So I thought, just take it easy, no bogeys for the rest of it. A few birdies, and you’ll be back in it.”
The double-bogey was her only mistake for the day, and the St Michael’s tyro responded to the self-talk with back-to-back birdies on the 15th (her 6th) and 16th (7th) to jump back into red numbers.
Bennett consolidated her position with another birdie on the 334-metre par-four first hole ( her 10th) to get to two-under, then rattled off six straight pars before slotting her final birdie of the day on the 466 metres par-five 8th to get to three under.
” I did see the leaderboard on the 8th hole, and I had like a six-footer for birdie. I thought, I definitely need to hole this one. So it was good motivation,’ she said.
A regulation four on the ninth (her final hole) was enough for Bennett to sign for 69 and a share of fifth place.
“It was good just to set a bit of a bar for myself. So, definitely happy,” Bennett said post-round.
I” managed to bring it back and just didn’t have any bogeys. I had a few birdies and kept myself going; kept myself steady.”
Pressed on how she almost missed her tee time, Bennett admitted it was simply little more than a case of daydreaming. A couple of minutes later, and it might have been a case of what could’ve been.
“I don’t know. I had plenty of time. I was just in my own world on the putting green. I was just not focusing on where to be, which is silly, but I got there in time.
“(It was) On the minute. I got there, pulled my driver out, and teed off. He called my name first, and that was it.”
Buoyed by her solid opening round, Bennett said she is confident she can still improve as the tournament progresses.
“An earlier tee time tomorrow and I’ll miss some of this heat in the afternoon. But definitely feeling confident.,” She smiled.
New South Wales other representative, Avondale Golf Club’s June Song didn’t fare as well as Bennett in yesterday’s first round.
Forced to use hire clubs after losing her equipment in transit, Song battled hard, but only managed an opening 78.