A chip in for birdie on the last was all Newcastle’s Jake Riley needed to earn his first-ever start in a professional tournament during final qualifying for the AVJennings NSW Open at Liverpool Golf Club.
The year eight student arrived at the par-three 18th knowing a par or better was going to be required. With an open spot on the line, and nerves playing their part, the teenager blew his five-iron wide and right of the mark.
What happened next was simply the stuff of dreams when you are just 14 years old.
“I had about six, maybe seven metres, I knew I had to land it just on, and it rolled straight in,” he beamed.
Riley had pulled off the perfect shot at the exact right time, and he walked off, knowing he had probably sealed his place in the field.
“I am stoked. I played pretty solid the whole day, and the last made it feel a lot better.”
Riley had never played a pre Q before today but was always confident of a good result.
“I won the district championships and the club champs, so I have a bit of confidence.”
While the rest of the week will be all about having fun, Riley is hoping he can make the cut to turn it into a memorable one. It’s also a welcome break from the books at Toronto High School.
“My parents said it’s OK to let school go for the week,” he smiled.
Nine others will join Riley in this week’s Championship after qualifying at one of three venues.
Taylor Cooper led the Glenmore Section with a fine 64, with Queensland’s Jediah Morgan and Ballina’s Jay Mackenzie taking the final two spots in a playoff after carding matching 68’s.
At Bayview, Jonathan Ledger set the mark with 64, followed by Neven Basic with a 66. The final spot went to Andrew Brennan with 67.
Jeremy Fuchs from Bonnie Doon Golf Club carded a handy 66 at Liverpool to take the sectional by a shot from Tim Hart. Corey Rae, and Jake Riley, mentioned, snared the last two spots with matching four under 68’s.
Taylor Cooper – 64
Jediah Morgan (a) – 68 (playoff)
Jay Mackenzie – 68
2nd Alternate – Samuel Rawlings – 68
5th Alternate – Benjamin Clementson – 69
Jonathan Ledger – 64
Neven Basic – 66
Andrew Brennan – 67
3rd Alternate – Austin Bautista – 68 (Playoff)
6th Alternate – Matt Dowling – 68
Jeremy Fuchs (a) 66
Tim Hart 67
Corey Rae (a) 68
Jake Riley (a) 68
1st Alternate: Mitch Davis 69 (Play – off)
4th Alternate: Ryan Woodward 69 (Play – off) 7th Alternate: Jamie Hook 69 (Play – off)