Coby Carruthers (Concord) and Sarah Hammett (Emerald Lakes) have won the 2022 NSW Junior Championships to secure their spots in the 2023 NSW Open.
After starting the tournament with a simply outstanding 68 in brutal conditions on Tuesday, Carruthers went wire-to-wire to claim his maiden JNJG major title with a one shot victory at Byron Bay Golf Club. Despite never being headed over the final 36 holes, the 17 year old was never able to feel comfortable or have even one hand on the trophy, with a number of players snapping at his heels throughout the final round.
In difficult conditions where par was a good score as the greens dried out and firmed up, Carruthers got off to a shaky start with back-to-back bogies on the first two holes. However birdies on six and nine, either side of a bogey on seven, kept the chasing pack at bay as no one was able to really make a final round charge. With a two shot lead and birdies hard to come by, Carruthers was rock solid over the closing stretch, finishing the tournament with seven straight pars including a number of clutch up and downs to finally get both hands on the trophy.
14 year old Harrison Gomez (RACV Royal Pines) came closest to chasing down the leader, drawing within one shot with a birdie on the par three 12th. That was as close as he got, as a bogey on the dog-leg 15th extended the margin back to two, a margin that proved too big to overcome.
Jye Halls (NSW GC) fell agonisingly short once again, having lost the tournament in a playoff to Jeffrey Guan in 2021. Halls was a late-entry into the tournament this year, looking for some last minute competitive practice before making the trip to the US for a big ‘Summer of Golf’, with a spot in the Junior Presidents Cup on the line. His even par 72 on Friday was enough to move into third position, sharing that spot with the impressive Taj Egea (Brookwater).
Whilst Carruthers spent all day in front in the Boys Division, the Girls were trading places and blows throughout the entire front nine.
Overnight leader Grace Lee (Concord) never recovered from a slow start, dropping back to a share of sixth and a final round 80. Elly Petersen (RACV Royal Pines) also ran out of steam on Friday, her tournament ended with a quadruple bogey on the 12th after finding the sand off the tee. Rachel Lee (Avondale) saved her best for last, rocketing up the leaderboard and into the top five with the round of the day, a four under par 70.
Whilst that was as high as Lee could go, the real story was happening at the top, as Kate McFarlane (Bundaberg), Haruhi Nakatani (Surfers Paradise), Jeneath Wong (Metropolitan) and NSW Amateur Champion Hammett were locked in an almighty battle.
Nakatani reached seven under at one stage early in the final round, but just like the boys were finding out, birdies were hard to come by during the final round. McFarlane finished with an even par 74 to finish in fourth position, one shot behind Nakatani and Wong at minus three.
However that didn’t end up being enough, as Queenslander Hammett became the first girl since Justine Lee more than 10 years ago to win both the NSW Amateur and NSW Junior titles in the same year. The 15 year old fired a final round one under par 73, with three birdies in the opening 10 Holes proving the difference as she broke away from the rest of the field and held on down the stretch for yet another major NSW crown.