Making their mark: An unprecedented weekend of international success highlighted a month in which our next generation of stars put the golf world on notice
It was 77 hours of unbridled Aussie dominance the likes of which we have never seen before.
Tracking the statistical frequency of five Australians – three professionals and two amateurs – winning various events across the world in little more than three days is beyond even Google’s computations, yet it may stand as the new benchmark for the measurement of success for Australian golf.
Starting with Kristen Rudgeley’s history-making performance in becoming the first Australian winner of the Scottish Women’s Open in the auspicious setting of Troon, and in the chronological order of their wins, Stephanie Kyriacou (Big Green Egg Open), Lucas Herbert (Dubai Duty Free Irish Open), Louis Dobbelaar (North and South Amateur) and Cam Davis (Rocket Mortgage Classic) saw the Aussie flag fly high on leaderboards around the globe.
At 26 years of age, Davis was the eldest of the five winners and introduced the Australian sporting public to a new generation of fresh faces now ready to take up the mantle for Aussie golf.
“Hopefully he’ll get Cam Davis more than Cam Smith now, because they still get that wrong half the time,” said coach Khan Pullen when asked how Davis’s maiden PGA Tour win would change his life. “Hopefully he’s formed his own identity now.”
One shot from the lead at the start of the final round, Davis looked an unlikely victor when he trailed by three shots with two holes to play. A holed bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 17th and perfectly executed birdie on the 72nd hole earned Davis a spot in a playoff with Joaquin Niemann and Troy Merritt, Merritt’s bogey on the fifth playoff hole the realisation of a boyhood dream.
Fittingly, Herbert’s coming-out party came at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Australia Day in 2020, but the manner of his Irish Open win displayed a level of completeness not evident in his early days.
An eight-under 64 on day one gave the Victorian a position atop the leaderboard that he would never relinquish, yet he had to scrap and claw his way through trees and out of bunkers to win one of the European Tour’s most coveted titles by three strokes.
Like Herbert, Stephanie Kyriacou’s win on July 3 was her second on the Ladies European Tour but the first since turning professional in the wake of her Australian Ladies Classic victory last February. Just 20 years of age, Kyriacou plays with a cool calm that is evident off the golf course as much as it is on, her proficiency with the putter drawing comparisons with Korean great Inbee Park as she completed a wire-to-wire win at Rosendaelsche Golf Club.
And there are more where they came from. Rudgeley birdied three of her final four holes in a third round of six-under 66 to win the Scottish Women’s Open while Dobbelaar, the 2021 Australian Amateur champion, added the North and South title to his victory at the Dogwood Invitational three weeks earlier, climbing 16 spots to be the 32nd-ranked amateur in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
Sydney’s Grace Kim is 30th in the women’s amateur rankings but has already begun to make her presence felt in the pro ranks, becoming the first amateur to win on the Women’s All Pro Tour at the Oscar Williams Classic in Texas. It followed Kim’s eight-stroke win on the Cactus Tour and earned her a start on the feeder tour to the LPGA Tour, the Symetra Tour’s Prasco Charity Championship where she finished 10th and preceded her qualification for the US Women’s Amateur to be held from August 2.
Seven days after our ‘winningest’ week, 22-year-old Min Woo Lee shot 64 in the final round to force a playoff at the abrdn Scottish Open where he defeated Thomas Detry and Matthew Fitzpatrick at the first extra hole for his second European Tour title.
Remember the names; they’ll be making headlines in these pages for the next decade.
Photos by Getty images: Gregory Shamus; The australian: gary lisbon