Kyle Michel (Golf Australia photo)
By Martin Blake
MELBOURNE, Australia (Dec. 11, 2018) – Defending champion David Micheluzzi crashed out of the Victorian Amateur Championship in Tuesday’s semifinals at the hands of a familiar foe -- his state teammate Kyle Michel.
Meanwhile, Western Australia's Kirsten Rudgeley pulled off an upset on the women's side, beating South Korea's wunderkind Min Yoon to set up an all WA final against 16-year-old Maddison Hinson-Tolchard.
The 24-year-old Michel's triumph puts him on the verge of his biggest win and came after a brilliant 4-under-par back nine where he reeled in Micheluzzi, his captain in Victoria's winning state team at the Interstate Series in Adelaide this year.
Previously a two-time Victorian country champion and Dunes medalist, Michel got to the front with birdies at Nos. 10, 11, 14 and 15 (from a chip-in) but needed to two-putt from long range at No. 18 to secure his place in the final. After Micheluzzi missed his birdie try from 4 meters (13 feet), Michel made a nerve-jangling putt of just beyond a meter (3 feet) to close it out, 1 up, shooting 6 under for the day in nice conditions.
"I set myself a goal of making five birdies on the back nine," said Michel. "I was able to get over the line.''
The Victorian said he took an almost care-free attitude into the semifinal.
"I went into thinking that I didn't have anything to lose," he said. "He (Micheluzzi) has all the status with his ranking and all, and he absolutely deserves it. I knew that I'd have to bring my best game to beat him and I was able to do it."
Notebook: Aussie amateur headliners, convention time & more
Michel, who hails from Shepparton, will meet Andre Lautee of Kingston Heath in the men's final tomorrow.
Lautee, 19, made the semifinals last year but lost to the eventual winner, Micheluzzi. His best result is eighth in the Victorian PGA Championship this year during which he was the leading amateur. On Tuesday, he beat Ben Henkel of Metropolitan, 5 and 3, in a semifinal.
In the women's event, it is the battle of the teenagers.
Rudgeley, 17, ousted the 15-year-old Yoon in their semifinal, winning 5-and-3 against the young woman who had won the stroke-play section and dominated her early match-play rounds.
"I tried not to focus on her winning the stroke play," said Rudgeley, a member at Perth's Mt Lawley Golf Club. "I'm hitting the ball well and on top of my game."
Tomorrow the teenager has a chance to augment the Western Australian amateur title she won in 2016, playing against Hinson-Tolchard. Rudgeley said a recent change of coach, to Craig Bishop, had turned around her form.
"That's made a difference," she said.
Having completed her year 12 studies a few weeks ago, she intends to focus on golf in 2019, which includes a trip to the United Kingdom, land of her birth. She emigrated with her family when she was 4 years old.
Hinson-Tolchard is the reigning Australian girls' champion out of Gosnells Golf Club in Perth and coached by Ritchie Smith.
She beat Yuka Saso of the Philippines at the 20th hole of a marathon semifinal Tuesday afternoon.
At the deciding hole, Hinson-Tolchard found trees off the tee and ended up having a 10-meter (32-foot) putt to save par. But she nailed the putt, and Saso bogeyed from behind the green to end the match.
The 36-hole finals will take place Friday at Huntingdale.
ABOUT THE Victorian Amateur
The low 32 finishers in the Port Phillip Amateur qualify
for elimination match play in the Victorian Amateur.
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