Jeffrey Guan and Jeneath Wong
Two of the finest teenage golfers in Australia, Jeffrey Guan
and Jeneath Wong
, have signed off their junior careers in style by winning the Australian Junior Amateur title for a second straight year.
A stunning Adelaide afternoon at The Vines of Reynella was the perfect setting for Guan and Wong to join an illustrious list of back-to-back winners that includes major champions Jan Stephenson and Adam Scott.
Wong’s one-under round of 72 took her to eight-under for the tournament to win by three shots ahead of playing partner Sarah Hammett (-5), while Guan’s four-under 67 kept him three strokes clear of West Australian Joseph Buttress.
The final round was not quite the coronation procession many expected as the champions ran into many bumps along the road to victory.
For Wong they came in the form of double bogeys at the third and 13th, while Guan had to rally when Buttress in the group front hit the lead when the eventual champion still had three holes to play.
Those who have seen the two 17-year-olds in action know that they ooze class and they responded in style. Wong birdied 16 and 18 to hold off a potential Hammett charge, and Guan reclaimed the ascendancy with birdies at 16 and 17 that proved to be the defining moments of the tournament.
“I saw on the leaderboard that I was one back with a couple to play. At that point I kind of had to focus a bit more on my game,” he said.
“I had to try to work out how to get more birdies to fight my way back up the leaderboard. I’m pretty happy that I did that.”
The 17-year-old missed out on getting the chance to play in the Australian Open last year, and he is over the moon to secure his place in this year’s field.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it. It’ll be really special to me as it's one of the biggest, most prestigious events,” Guan said.
Guan won the Adam Scott Junior Championship in California earlier this year where he spent time with the 2013 Masters champion and he would love to get to know him better as colleagues.
“It’d be really special. It was an honor to play in his tournament and he was really just a kind, genuine bloke. I look forward to meeting him in the lines this time, not outside,” Guan said.
He also joined Scott in winning consecutive Australian Junior Amateur titles. Ryan Ruffels and Grant Waite are the other two males to do so and Guan wants to ensure that the trend of back-to-back winners of this event reaching the heights of the PGA Tour continues.
“It’s definitely where I want to be one day. I’d definitely love to be on the PGA Tour,” he said.
Like Guan, Wong was forced to hold her nerve as the pressure rose throughout the day and a return to a simple approach was the decisive shift in strategy that led her to the title.
“I was kind of nervous after doubling because Sarah and I got a bit closer. I started to play a bit calmer and not go for the pin as much and it came back,” she said.
Wong has been prolific on the junior circuit. She has won the last seven World Amateur Golf Ranking junior events she has played in and she was thrilled to capitalise on the last chance she will get to play a national junior event.
“I’m really excited and happy considering this is my last year playing this event so I’m really happy that I won,” she said.
“It really is the icing on the cake. I haven’t been playing that well in the last few weeks but this tournament I’ve improved quite a bit so I’m very happy.”
The next step in her journey is already locked in. After completing high school this year, she will move to California to study and play collegiate golf at Pepperdine University - the college Katherine Kirk attended. Before all of that, she will get to play with her heroes at the Women’s Australian Open later in the year.
“I’m really excited to learn from the pros. It’ll be a good experience,” she said.
“It’d be really cool to play with Minjee Lee. It’d be like a dream come true considering she’s my idol so it’d be really cool to play with her.”
Third place in the girls was shared between Queenslander Yuuki Takada and New Zealander Darae Chung at even-par, while Queenslander Kai Komulainen rounded out the boys placing at two-under.
The Boys Under 16 medal was won by New Zealander Joshua Bai who finished in a tie for fourth overall at one-under.
Hammett took out the Girls Under 16 medal for her runner-up finish, while the Girls Under 14 medal went to Victorian Amelia Harris after she finished tied 16th overall at 18-over par.
by Dane Heverin, Golf AustraliaView results for Australian Junior Amateur
ABOUT THE Australian Junior Amateur
The Australian Junior Amateur Championship is open to
players aged under 18 years on the first day of play.
The initial field size is 156 players (105 boys and 51
girls), and it is contested over 72-holes stroke play
(with a cut after 54-holes).
View Complete Tournament Information