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Golf's rising stars beat the heat

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Two rising stars beat the heat and the hard and fast greens at Grange Golf Course on Sunday to take out the Australian Amateur Championships.

Western Australian Minjee Lee successfully defended her Women’s Championship crown, defeating 15 year-old Queenslander Karis Davidson with five holes to spare.

In the Men’s, New Zealand 19-year-old Tae Koh clinched the first major win of his amateur career on his first trip to Australia with a resounding 6&5 win over Western Australian Curtis Luck.

The week-long series started Tuesday with qualifying rounds before another four days of match play that pitted the golfers against the tough Grange course and the record heatwave in Adelaide.

Koh led 4up after the first 18 holes and said he was overwhelmed to clinch victory.

“It feels great obviously. Winning 6&5 was a pretty good effort I thought. I thought it was going to be a pretty tough match. You play pretty good players. To do it in that fashion is awesome,” Koh said.

Koh becomes the first New Zealand man to win the title since former U.S Open champion Michael Campbell did in 1992.

Koh also earns an exemption into the Emirates Australian Open at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney later this year.

“That’s big – Michael Campbell won a major and was a great player. Hopefully I can follow in his footsteps.”

Born in Korea, Koh moved to New Zealand at the age of six and began playing golf when he was seven after caddying for this father.

He stopped playing golf for four years in his early teens to pursue cricket and soccer before returning to the golf course four and half years ago.

In the Women’s event, the wraps are big on both finalists: Western Australian Minjee Lee defeated 15 year-old Queenslander Karis Davidson 6&5.

The World Number 5 and 17 year-old Lee led 2up after the first 18 holes with the pair putting on a birdie blitz in the morning.

Davidson birdied three of her first five holes and took the challenge up to Lee before the Royal Fremantle member rolled off four straight birdies on holes 5-8 in the afternoon round to surge clear.

“It feels good. It’s always a long week at the Australian Amateur and it’s good to get the win and start the year off on a high,” Lee said.

“I was just steady today. Whenever Karis made mistakes, I just took advantage of that. After that I holed a couple of putts early on the front nine in the second round and I got to 6 or 7up,” said Lee who earns a place at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open next month.

Lee, who graduated from school in 2013, has now won two Australian Amateur titles, the Australian Junior title and the US Girls’ Junior title among a host of other victories.

“I don’t have school this year so I’m going to play all of the Aussie professional circuit events and then go to China for the World Ladies Championship. After that I think I’ll head to the United States for the U.S Women’s Amateur and play a couple of other big events over there,” Lee said.

Fellow National Squad member Ryan Ruffels caddied for Lee for the semi final and final. The pair teamed up for Lee’s Australian Amateur victory in 2013 in Melbourne.

“He’s good company, we had fun out there and it was pretty cruisey,” Lee added.

Despite the hot conditions mid-week, the course remained in top condition with fast, but true greens.

Golf Australia officials said the Grange Club and its volunteers had provided a top class venue for the Championship which featured around 300 of Australia’s top golfers.

 

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