November 27, 2022

Chill Bennett Tames Thai Heat IN WAPC

She might not have been exactly relaxing by the pool; still, Kelsey Bennett would have been pretty chilled on Thursday afternoon as her opponents sweltered in the Thai heat, trying to catch her and outright leader Liyana Durisic in the opening round of the Women’s Asia Pacific Championship.

Out early on day one at the Waterside Course of Siam Country Club, Bennett (who opened her round from the 10th) got off to a flyer with birdies at the 12th and 13th to be one of the tournament’s early pace setters.

A bogey at the tricky 362-yard 17th hole might have been a wobble, but the St Michael’s member got the shot back immediately at the par-5 18th with a tidy chip that almost found the bottom of the cup for eagle.

Finishing her round on the tougher front nine, Bennett didn’t seem phased at all, the 22-year-old making birdies at holes three, four and six to reach the ninth hole at five-under, good enough for second alone at the time, even if the leaderboard showed her one shot worse.

“I wasn’t really thinking about it too much; I just played my game. Had my caddie just keeping me in the game rather than thinking about shots, which was good,” Bennett said of the confusion.

Another fairway and brilliant approach to her last hole of the day gave her a chance to earn an equal share of the lead with Durisic of Malaysia, but perhaps a little overconfident after her solid start, the Mollymook product raced her attempt by on the high side.

“Hit it a little firmer trying to get it up the hill, but plenty of holes left to go,” she said.

Bennett was still delighted with her opening 67 that has her one off the lead and level with local hope Natthakritta Vongtaveelap, the pair a shot in front of Jiyoo Lim of Korea as they chase major championship starts at the AIG Women’s Open and Amundi Evian Championship, as well as a trip to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

“It was pretty good. Pretty happy with it, just did my processes, and it worked out.”

Asked about her plans for the afternoon and the benefit of her early-late side of the draw, while players like her roommate Kirsten Rudgeley were out grinding in 30-plus-degree heat trying to chase her down, Bennett was succinct.

“Probably go in the pool, just chill, do nothing really.

“Eat plenty of food and drink plenty of hydrolyte,” she grinned.

It seems a reasonably prudent play with the steamy afternoon conditions in store on Friday when Bennett will be out at 11:11 am local time alongside Lim and defending champion Mizuki Hashimoto of Japan.