Christchurch amateur Amelia Garvey is one of 18 junior golfers playing alongside a leading professional from the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch field this evening at the Clearwater Golf Club.
It’s an annual event for Kiwi junior golfers to learn from and be mentored by some of best players in the game.
In a few days’ time the English-born 13-year-old will tee it up for real in the championship that is co-sanctioned on the ALPG and LET Tours.
Garvey was one of six golfers – alongside Hyeji Lee (South Korea), Ji Eun Ha (Waitikiri), Brydie Hodge (Levin), Vanessa Bouvet (New Plymouth) and Ji Young Lee (P, South Korea) – who booked their place in the National Open which will host a world-class field at Clearwater from January 31 to February 2.
She is the second-youngest golfer to play the NZ Women’s Open after Lydia Ko who at the age of 12 finished tied seventh on her debut at Pegasus.
The Kaiapoi golfer carded an even-par 74 in the hot and windy conditions of the Final Qualifying Event at the Christchurch Golf Club to secure her place.
“This is really crazy for me,” Garvey said afterwards. “I cannot believe that I am playing in the New Zealand Open. It is definitely the biggest achievement of my golf career so far. I am really proud to have made it through.”
Garvey played solidly at the testing Shirley layout and said that she felt the pressure on the closing stretch.
“I was really nervous. I knew that I was going to be close to the number and when my last putt went it I just hoped it was enough.”
It was enough and now Garvey has the chance to rub shoulders with some of her idols in the 54 hole championship.
“It is funny to think that I am a junior, and I’m going to this junior clinic, and then I get to play in the event. I will use tonight to prepare for the tournament.
“I hope that I can play well in front of my family and that I won’t be too nervous.”
South Korean Hyeji Lee showed no signs of nerves today. She comfortably won the qualifying event when she carded a seven-under par 67.
A playoff was required to decide the final qualifier. South Korean professional Ji Young Lee and Auckland amateur Joanna Kim played the 18th for a second time.
Kim, who played a leading role in Auckland’s win of the Toro NZ Women’s Interprovincial in 2013, was too aggressive with her birdie putt and missed the return putt for par.
When the professional Lee two-putted for par her place in the field was confirmed.
With the final six qualifiers found, the field is now complete at 133 players for sixth staging of the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open beginning on Friday.
ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch – Final Qualifier at the Christchurch Golf Club (Par 74):
67 Hyeji Lee (South Korea)
71 Ji Eun Ha (Waitikiri)
74 Brydie Hodge (Levin), Amelia Garvey (Kaiapoi), Vanessa Bouvet (New Plymouth)
75 Ji Young Lee (P, South Korea)*, Joanna Kim (The Grange) (*Lee won in a playoff)
The following players did not qualify:
76 Ji Yoon Jeong (P, South Korea)
77 Soon Young Kim (P, South Korea)
78 Su Hyun Yoo (Harewood), Jung Hyeon Ahn (South Korea)
79 Fiona Gebbie (Coringa)
81 Momoka Kobori (Rangiora)
82 Jasmine Rou (Templeton), Cheerie Tan (Australia)
83 Laura Hoskin (Arrowtown), Hillary O'Connor (Coringa)
84 Jan Manoonpong (Remuera), Jessie Ji (Howick)
86 In A Song (Harewood)