HAYES: What Are the odds on this incredible win?

Golfers traditionally don’t grow up eyeing world championships, per se.

Depending on your background and nationality, men might eye the Masters or The Open; women the US Open or, increasingly, the British Open.

But in breaking news, I can now reveal that Lydia Hall never once thought about being the world sand greens champion.

Not once.

I know. Big shock, right?

Yet here we are.

The diminutive 36-year-old from Bridgend, Wales, has done not so much the unthinkable as the “unthought of”.

“I wish I could have put a bet on me being (declared) a world champion in Walcha,” Hall beamed after becoming the inaugural global champion on a surface she didn’t know conducted golf until three years ago.

“We were playing (the Women’s New South Wales Open) in 2020 and some of the girls decided they wanted to play in a pro-am at (nearby) Dunedoo on the sand greens there.

“I didn’t go, but I remember all the girls coming back and saying how difficult it was, that it’s crazy and very different.

“I remember thinking it’s probably not something for me, to be honest.”

But here we are.

Hall candidly admitted when she won at Dubbo in the NSW Open regional qualifying series a month ago that she’d been within weeks of giving professional golf away at the end of a tumultuous 2023 LET season.

She’d come to Australia in December to spend some quality time with her partner and family in Canberra, generally take a breather and specifically to see whether she could rediscover a love of golf.

They practised at Federal Golf Club, she took her first “clubs down” holiday in 16 years in Bali and spent some time with nieces that helped put the world in better perspective.

The win in Dubbo helped recharge Hall’s battery; so, too, time in a warm Australian summer and away from the daily LET grind.

But there was never an inkling of today. Not once.

And that includes right up until yesterday.

Yet here we are.

“After playing the pro-am on Tuesday, I thought to myself, `I can’t even play golf’,” Hall said with a broad grin.

“I don’t know how many over par I was, but it was frightening.

“I felt like a beginner golfer again.”

Hall said she sat down on Tuesday night and mapped out a strategy after the hotchpotch of styles she employed earlier in the day proved fruitless

“I was trying everything in the pro-am to suss out what the best plan was on these greens and I ended up deciding that keeping (the ball) as close to the ground as possible was best for me.

“More often than not with a wedge I could fly it the whole way and generate enough spin to stop on some greens, but anything from a 9-iron or more, I was running it in.

“It’s obviously different to links golf, but it’s the same in a way because everything is unpredictable.

“The main thing I decided was I had to stay patient because everyone, including myself, was bound to make mistakes or have something bounce funny.”

It’s testament to all world-class golfers that they can adapt the lessons engrained for decades.

But the repair job Hall did in the past 48 hours is legitimately something special.

And the reward a crown nobody will ever rip from her – world champion.

“Yeah, it’s got a strange ring to it. I wasn’t expecting that, I can tell you.

“But the whole reason of coming here was to commit to an Aussie season, not getting tempted to go and play LET.

“I just needed a break from it all, to get back to grass roots and rediscover a love for the game – and I definitely have.

“Especially here in Walcha. On sand greens. There’s just so many ways of different ways of playing golf. It’s amazing.”

Yet here we are.

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