Master of the Amateurs champions Sahith Theegala and Alyaa Adulghany
Sahith Theegala was in complete control all week at the Victoria Golf Club, and he took a 5-shot lead into the final round of the Australian Master of the Amateurs.
Then Friday's front nine happened.
After a birdie on No. 1 extended Theegala's lead to six, he and the rest of the group struggled as heavy winds swept through the area.
"It was incredible," said tournament manager Geoffrey Mann. "The gale force winds made the first nine holes a real challenge, so even getting par on some of the holes was impressive. Especially as the winds made the greens rock hard and fast, with pin positions in hard locations."
Coming off a tournament low 64, Jack Thompson made three bogeys and shot 39 on the front. And the other Jack in the group (Buchanan) had even more trouble, starting bogey-triple-bogey en route to a front nine of 42.
So when Theegala posted two doubles and three bogeys to get to 6-over after seven holes, the only question was could he settle down, and would anyone from another group make a charge.
He answered the first question by going eagle-birdie on Nos. 8 and 9 to finish at 39. After his run in the middle of the front nine, that must have felt like a victory. And for the rest of the day he held off competitors with 8-straight pars. Theegala secured the victory on the par-5 with a bogey.
Jang Hyun Lee (South Korea) was the runner up in second place with six-under, with a current world ranking of 178. The leading Australian, Jack Thompson, finished third with a five-under, with a current world ranking of 74. Ren Yonezawa (Japan) and Yuta Sugiura (Japan) embraced these conditions and moved up the leader board, to equally finish fourth in the championship.
USC Junior Alyaa Abdulghany of Newport Beach California birdied the last hole to post 73, and 2-under for the 72-hole tournament. That tied her with Ho Yu An, who had birdied the final two holes in regulation to force a playoff. Abdulghany won the playoff and the prestigious Women's Australia Masters of the Amateurs title.
Abdulghany is ranked number 68 in the world and ranked number 1 in Malaysia. Up and coming junior, Grace Kim (Australia) finished 4th with a world ranking of 81.
Lion Higo also broke the women's course record at the Victoria Golf Club on the second day of the Championship with an incredible 62
ROUND THREE REPORT
After nine holes on Thursday, it may have looked like second round leader Sahith Theegala was going to come back to the field. After recording a bogey and double bogey against two birdies on the front nine, Theegala settle down on the back and took command of the tournament with one round to play.
The Pepperdine (Malibu, Calif.) University golfer birdied Nos. 11, 12, and 15 before a bogey set his run back a bit on No. 16.
But in the first two rounds, he had gone birdie-eagle on the two par 5s that close out Victoria Golf Club, so standing on the 17th tee one can imagine he was seeing nothing but red (numbers that is).
Although he "only" finished birdie-birdie, his round of 37-32=69 pushed the Californian five shots clear of two Australian golfers, Jack Thompson and Jack Buchanan.
20-year-old Thompson (Adelaide) is ranked No. 74 in the WAGR Rankings (and has been as high as No. 31). He won the 2018 Riversdale Cup. Today he shot 8-under 64 with 10 birdies against one double bogey, at No. 12.
And here's the thing -- he took any sting out of the double bogey by making birdie on five of the next six holes, including the final four. Talk about moving day -- he vaulted 23 spots up the leaderboard with his 64 -- and it's also the low daily score of the tournament.
Cassie Porter stands at 5-under to lead the women's tournament by 2 shots over Alyaa Abdulghany of Newport Beach California. Porter is a top-ranked Australian junior golfer; Abdulghany (born in Malaysia) is an All-American golfer at USC.
ROUND 2 RECAP
Californian Sahith Theegala is two shots clear of the elite field at the halfway point of the Australian Master of the Amateurs.
The tournament is being played at Victoria Golf Club. After a flawless first round of 66, Theegala got off to a shakier start in the second round, making two bogeys early but offsetting them with two birdies. His back nine was exactly the same - seven-straight bogeys followed by a flourishing birdie-eagle finish on Nos. 17 and 18. Both holes are par-5s but still, that's impressive.
ROUND 1 RECAP
The first major amateur international championship is underway in Australia, with two Americans tied at the top after one round of the Master of the Amateurs tournament at Victoria Golf Club.
Sahith Theegala (Chino Hills, Calif.) of Pepperdine University and Quade Cummins (Weatherfied, Okla.) each shot 6-under 66 to share the lead with Benjamin Schmidt of England.
Theegala was bogey-free, with four birdies an an eagle on the par-5 18th hole. The highlight of Cummins' round was an eagle two on the par-4 2nd.
The low Australian after the first round is Jack Buchanan at 5 under after a 67.
Last year's champion Chun An Yu (Chinese Taipei) of Arizona State is not back to defend. His win started him on a strong year that resulted in being named the 2019 AmateurGolf.com Player-of-the-Year
In the Women's Division, Min A Yoon of Korea has a two-shot lead over Australian Cassie Porter after an opening 5-under 67. The women's tournament also draws a strong international field but no Americans are competing this year.
ABOUT THE Master of the Amateurs
The Master of the Amateurs, a 72-hole medal play
has rapidly become one of the
elite championships in amateur golf. Like The
Masters, the champion
receives a Green Jacket. Contestants
participate in the first round of the
championship with professional golfers in a
unique Am-Pro Invitational.
The Master of the Amateurs winner gets an
invitation to the Porter
Cup in the U.S. Likewise the winners of those
two tournaments receive invitations to the
next Master of the Amateurs tournament.
A qualifying round (see tournament
website for date and handicap requirement)
three non-exempt players to earn invitations
into the prestigious field.
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