Some were epic, some were arm wrestles, but all were enthralling as the Quarter and semi-final matches of the NSW Amateur wrapped at Belmont Golf Course today.
In the men’s, top seed Declan O’Donovan will seek to claim his second crown in as many days when he takes on Kempsey’s Andrew Kirkman. In the Women’s, Rachel Lee will look to add another prestigious crown to her growing resume when she takes on last year’s losing finalist, Godiva Kim.
For O’Donovan, the day began with a tough battle against 2022 NSW Junior Champ Koby Carruthers. Despite taking an early two-hole lead, Carruthers fought back to square the match late on the back nine, pushing the contest to the 18th.
The crowd was expecting the contest to head to sudden death, but with O’Donovan all but in the hole for par, Carruthers missed his chance for par, much to the relief of the top seed.
With the afternoon contests played in a strengthening southeasterly, O’DOnovan really found his mojo against a gallant Jeff Pullen.
Unfortunately, it was a match too far for the tall St.Michael’s representative, who, despite his excellent play, couldn’t match the Avondale powerhouse’s seven birdies in 15 holes on his way to a 4/3 win.
“I had to play some brilliant golf to beat those guys today,” O’Donovan grinned. “I didn’t play the level of golf I have been playing but the way I played this afternoon was another reminder of how good it can be.”
O’Donovan’s opponent in tomorrow’s final, Andrew Kirkman, was as surprised as he was relieved to make the final.
The 37-year-old battled Vidur Subramaniam in the morning match, eventually winning on the last, before taking out The Australian Golf Club’s Harrison Glenday in the semi-final with an almost faultless back nine in the strong wind, 3/2.
“I never expected to be this far into the competition at the end of the week. It’s new for me, and I have nothing to lose,” Kirkman, the 2023 NSW Country Champ, said.
The women’s contests were equally fascinating. Rachel Lee and Godiva Kim, who survived both the quarter-final and semi-final, will meet in tomorrow’s final.
Lee had a few problems accounting for Annabel Hutchings in the morning quarter-final, 5/4. However, her afternoon semi against a courageous Lara Thomsen proved to be one of the matches of the day, going to sudden death.
Thomson battled back from two down late in the contest and almost stole the contest when her putt for birdie on the last lipped out, but it was to no avail, with Lee claiming the match with an exquisite chip on the 19th to snatch the win.
My first 18 was solid, but this afternoon. I was a little tired. Lara was a great opponent, and she hit lots of great shots. It was all about birdies and pars out there.”
“I hit a great chip on that last hole, and it was a pretty good way to win,” Lee said after her win.
Lee’s opponent in tomorrow’s final, Godiva Kim, went quietly about her work for much of the day. She took out Sienna Clarke 3/1 in the morning before outlasting The Lakes Rebecca Zhao in the afternoon Semi-final.
Kim was quietly pleased with her two results and was looking forward to tomorrow’s final against Lee and
“I’m pretty happy with how I went today,” Kim said. “It was a lttle better than last year, but it felt very similar.”
“THe key was to just go with the win out there, My dad helped me a lot, I wastrying to not be afraid of aiming over bunkers and letting the wind take it,”
Kim said she had learned from her loss in last year’s final against fellow Queenslander Shyka Singh and would not place too many expectations on herself.
“I’m nervous, really nervous. I’ve played Rachel before, so hopefully, we will have a good match.”