WOLLONGONG, Australia (April 7, 2017) -- He’s a driven young man, Cameron John.
So it should come as no surprise that his mind was racing with the opportunities that lay ahead even before he sealed a dramatic victory in today’s Australian Boys’ Amateur Championship.
he Victorian had learnt from his state teammates that, after a tight final-round duel with Jordan Garner, his New South Wales rival had made a late bogey and that all he needed for victory was a par up the par-5 18th at Wollongong Golf Club.
With the chance not only to join an illustrious honour roll to have won the national title, but also nab a berth in November’s Emirates Australian Open, his lacklustre drive for safety up the adjacent first fairway suddenly left him a far more challenging lay-up than he’d bargained on.
“I actually stood over that shot and said to myself, `You have to hit this well if you want to play the Aussie Open’ and thankfully I managed to do it,” said John after his fifth and final year of eligibility for the junior title came to fruition courtesy largely of a 210m 3-iron that set up his chip and two putts for victory.
“I can’t wait to play in November and hopefully compare my game to some of the best professionals in the world – it’s going to be awesome.”
As it turned out, John had already played an even more important shot to keep at bay the rising Garner, of Castle Hill Golf Club in Sydney’s north-west.
With Garner’s one-under 68 being that left him at six under total after four rounds being ratified at score return, John made an error on the par-3 17th tee that threatened his one-shot lead before he knew he had it.
A tough chip for his second ran through the green and, while less than 5m from the flag, his par putt was from off the short surface.
“I knew it was important, but I didn’t know the scores at that time, so I just hit a really good shot and it dropped,” John said after his even-par 69 proved just enough at seven under.
“It turned out to be very important later, obviously.”
John said he’d seen first-hand some great young golfers win this title in the past four years, including now professional pair Antonio Murdaca and Ryan Ruffels, twice.
“I’ve watched some really good players win these in the past few years and I knew this was my last chance and I didn’t want to regret it, so I’m really pleased to have ticked it off now,” John said.
“It was awesome to see how well they managed the pressure, and even Dan Hillier did the same last year, so it was really good for me to watch that, remember it and replicate that when I needed to.
“I was talking to a few mates about the Australian Open start in the build-up this week, and I’d missed at pre-Q by two last year.
“I thought about the last couple of years and I’ve really been pushing to get a start in a big event like this, through the Aussie Am or the Aaron Baddeley Invitational, but it’s awesome to think I’ll be in that company in November.
“To see what Curtis Luck and `Ruff’ have been able to do and see who they play with in the tournament and even in practice rounds, that’s all I’ve been thinking about, really
“It will be amazing to see their craft and how they go about it – another great experience.”
John had brought good form into this week with three consecutive pennant victories for his Commonwealth Golf Club team in Golf Victoria’s pennant, including a bogey-free 3&2 win over former Australian PGA Championship winner Daniel Popovic last weekend.
After representing Victoria in next week’s Junior Interstate Series, he will head almost immediately to the Sage Valley Junior Invitational in South Carolina.
“It’s a busy time, but I’m playing well and really enjoying the challenges and keeping improving.
“My coach Tim Wendel has just been awesome with me for ages, then all the time and effort the Rowville Sports Academy, Golf Victoria for several years and Golf Australia last year have invested in me, I wouldn’t be here without it.”
Garner was two under through six holes of his final round, then settled down with nine straight pars until a bogey on the par-4 16th.
By that stage, the earlier threat of a four-strong New Zealand contingent had been quelled with third-round leader Tom Parker (73) and Dominic Brettkelly (71) finishing tied third at four under.
Their fellow Kiwis Shaun Campbell (65 for T5 at three under) and Kevin Koong (70 for T8 at one under) also impressed.
Canberra’s Josh Armstrong and halfway leader Harrison Crowe also finished at three under, while Queensland’s Louis Dobbelaar and Dubbo’s Jones Comerford ended at one under alongside Koong in the top 10.
New South Wales’ Grace Kim has won the Australian Girls Amateur Championship after a drama-packed final round at Port Kembla Golf Club today.
Kim shot rounds of 74, 68, 73 and 72 to finish the tournament at five under par. A shot behind her was her NSW teammate and day two leader Hannah Park, while Doey Choi completed the NSW trifecta in thrid place at two under par.
In a dramatic afternoon, Grace and Park were deadlocked with one hole remaining. It took a stunning birdie on the final hole for the 16-year old Kim to prevail.
Park hit her approach on the par five last hole to about 3m, then, moments later, Kim slotted her approach inside it. After a valiant attempt by Park to make her birdie putt, it was Kim who calmly stood up and holed her birdie for the championship.
Kim was all but lost for words after the event.
“That last putt won it for me,” she beamed. “I honestly thought we were heading for a playoff.”
"I’m so stoked with the win, I can’t think straight,”
Kim’s mother had watched the proceedings all day, and had trouble fighting her emotions after watching her daughter take her biggest title to date.
“Mum was in tears afterwards. She could barely talk, she didn’t expect it,” Kim said.
The Girls' Amateur Championship win also means that Kim has now earned a spot in next year’s ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open. She was thrilled to hear the news.
“I’m stoked. I just heard about that, and I can’t think straight right now. I really can't put into words what that means,” she beamed.
View results for Australian Junior Championships