Cassie Porter came to 13th Beach yesterday with great expectations, but was dealt a reality check by the game of golf, as Jiyai Shin became the Vic Open champion for 2023.
Australian Porter encountered a windy day – the first of the week at Barwon Heads on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula – and it shook her game to the core.
Despite a two-shot lead at the start of the day, Porter could not match the relentless march of South Korea’s former world No.1 Shin, who caught the Queenslander by the second hole, overtook her and ran away with a five-shot win.
It is 34-year-old Shin’s first win since 2021, which is an eternity for a player who has won more than 60 times around the world.
“Finally, I won in Victoria, I’m so happy for this,” she said. “Finally I did. I have a good reason to come back.”
The Korean, who plays mostly in Japan nowadays but who is a previous winner of two Majors, shot a steady, even-par 71 to close and always looked the winner.
Porter, by contrast, slumped to equal fourth in shooting a closing 79, seven-over par, under the pressure of trying to go wire-to-wire against world class players.
“It’s tough. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but you can’t do anything else but take the positives out of it,” she said. “On to the next, it’s just another day at work and everyone has hard days at work.”
Porter bowed to the greatness of Shin, who has a remarkable record in Australia including her win at the 2013 Women’s Australian Open.
“She handled herself amazingly out there and I was just there to learn,” said the 20-year-old. “And I definitely did that. I learnt so much today. I’m just grateful for the experience.”
Shin quickly took control but a pair of bogeys around the turn saw her momentum drop, and Porter birdied the 10th and the 11th to trim the Korean’s lead back to one.
By the time they reached the par-4 15th, Shin’s lead was three but Porter hit her 3-wood into the fairway bunker, knocked her approach long and ended up with a double-bogey against the Korean’s par, and that was that. At the par-5 18th the Australian went for glory, trying to smoke a 3-wood over the marshland and on to the green in two, but did not clear the penalty area and ended up with a bogey 6 to lose her hold on second place.
It was a microcosm of her very difficult day, although many others have fallen at the hand of Shin before. “We could all learn something from Jiyai, how she handles tough situations,” said Porter. “It was impressive. One-under in conditions like this… outstanding. I was just very lucky to have a front-row seat.”
Shin said she sensed that the Australian was nervous, a feeling she was familiar with from her past.
“I had the same thing, but sometimes the rookie makes a more impressive game,” she said. “In this wind, it changes a bit, I’m so glad to play with her for three days and I look forward to her playing in all of the world. The first two rounds, she was making everything. I was so surprised. She’s a rookie! Today I want her with this experience to learn something.”
With Porter’s bogey at the last another Australian, Grace Kim, sneaked up into a share of second with her one-under round. Pavarisa Yoktuan from Thailand also took a share of second, although she never threatened to win.
The big mover of the day was Australian Su Oh, who played a remarkable round of 67 in a three-club wind to move into a tie for sixth.