It’s difficult to describe a group of mostly 18-year-olds as having reached their end goal. But for New South Wales, a group of young “sisters” today showed with a resounding 4&2 win in the women’s Interstate Series final that the state’s recent high performance direction is right on target.
Even without Australian No.1 Grace Kim away on Australian duty at the Queen Sirikit Cup in Thailand, the young Blues were relentless in getting the better of Western Australia in testing conditions at the pristine Glenelg Golf Club in Adelaide.
The WA women, the majority of whom were also part of the state’s winning Junior Interstate Series team last month, fought gallantly and, through Abbie Teasdale, took the first point in driving, intermittent rain.
But as the final wore on, it became evident to the hearty band of spectators that these NSW women were made of something special.
Kelsey Bennett opened the NSW account, which quickly took another subsequent deposit from Darcy Habgood and then minutes later Steph Kyriacou landed the killer blow, with the minor-round champions requiring only three points from a possible six for to land the crown.
Amy Chu was pushed hard by Kathryn Norris, but eventually a half on the 17th was enough to swell the lead again, keeping intact the NSW skipper’s unbeaten record this week.
Full credit must also go to Kirsten Rudgeley, skipper of her state at just 17, who toppled Doey Choi 3&1 to win WA’s second point in the top match to follow Chu’s lead. Rudgeley and Chu were the only unbeaten players all week at Glenelg and were key reasons why their states reached the final showdown.
But it was the latter who could bask in her team’s combined glory, with the Gladys Hay Memorial Cup returning to Sydney for the first time since 2009.
“I’m really proud of the girls, they’ve all done incredibly well this week,” Chu said. “We’re like a second family, so everyone really celebrates everyone else’s success… it makes it all even better when you see your mates succeed.
“We’ve done so much in the preparation to get to this point… it’s really nice to see it stand up when it matters.
“And a huge thanks to all involved with the team, our coach Dean (Kinney), our manager Claudia (Lim) and all who’ve helped get us here. It’s a team effort and all the girls are really grateful. It’s a special moment. You never know when you get this chance and we’re really glad we took it.”
Kinney’s role cannot be overstated, with his men’s team having won in 2016 and coming within a hair’s breadth again last year before losing several of its leaders to the professional ranks.
Choi, jokingly referred to as “Mum” among her teammates at the ripe old age of 18, was full of praise for Kinney and his high performance colleagues whom she said had been the difference in their development from promising to Interstate champions.
“We can’t thank Golf NSW and especially Dean enough for putting their hard work and effort into us,” Choi said. “It’s not only the game of golf, but how they treat us and what they do for us and it’s pretty much proven that.”