The temperature was more than a little on the low side, and the icy wind strong enough to blow a dog from its chain, but the conditions didn’t dampen the spirit of the NSW Blues team in their final hit-out before tomorrow’s opening day of the Australian Interstate Teams matches.
The squad had their final look at the St. Michael’s layout at its most challenging, with 40 km/h winds buffeting the course from the south for much of the day, the sort of day that most would not even bother getting the sticks out of the car, much less be ready to grind out 18 holes of practice.
The blues will be vying for thier first win in the newly merged competition, and with home-course advantage, will be earmakred as the team to beat.
Five players make their Senior team debut this week, Daley Loumains and Declan O’ Donovan in the men’s, while Annika Rathbone, Charlotte Perkins and Rachel Lee appear in the women’s for the very first time.
June Song, selected in the 2020 squad, but didn’t get to play due to COVID, finally gets her chance in the State team. She is relishing the thought that week’s matchplay format is one in which she has been playing incredibly well all year.
“My golf’s been pretty good,” Song said. “I’ve had some good results in a few of the pro events, and that s given me some confidence.
“I was undefeated in Pennants this year, except for a square with Belinda (Ji.
“I think being able to play pennant so early in the year gives us an advantage in this type of event because we are in that zone. But with the conditions here, though, it might be a pretty difficult week.”
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Fellow debutant Charlotte Perkins agreed with Song that the format was a positive for her, but the weather conditions were likely to be a factor.
A successful New South Wales girls’ team member in 2022, Perkins said her form was on the up after a reasonably successful summer with several pleasing results.
“I had a good finish to my junior career at the end of last year, picking up a few Jack Newton (JNJG) events, then I made the cut in the Aussie Amateur and the match play rounds of the NSW Amateur.”
“Matchplay is a totally different event than stroke. It’s something I think I’m on the rise in and getting better.”
“At The Australian, we don’t see it get this windy a lot, and in the conditions here, well, it’s a different game.”
Though not much older than Song or Perkins, team Co-captain Belinda Ji said she hoped she could
“Being in the team for a couple of years and having more experience, I hope to pass some of my knowledge down and help the team.
“But there’s so much talent here; they are all good.
“If there is one piece of advice I could give them, it would be to stay in your zone, even though you may want to play a little bit more aggressively.
“It’s too easy to drift a little bit into your opponent’s game when you should simply play your own game. Take it one shot at a time and the result will take care of itself.”