In last month’s issue we reviewed the 2017 ALPG season so far, finishing up with Melissa Reid’s dramatic 3rd hole playoff victory over Solheim Cup teammate Sandra Gal at the Oates Vic Open.
From the beauty of the Bellarine Peninsula, the tour headed west to South Australia for the jewel in the crown of the ALPG Tour and Australian Women’s golf, the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open held at the magnificent Royal Adelaide Golf Club.
Once again this year a world-class field was assembled; including world number 1 Lydia Ko, number 2 Ariya Jutanagarn, ALPG and LPGA legend and Hall-of-famer Karrie Webb and our Rio Olympians Minjee Lee and Su Oh.
2017 was the second year that Royal Adelaide has played host to a Women’s Australian Open, in 1994 it was the venue which witnessed a young Swede—who would go on to be the finest player in history—by the name of Annika Sorenstam break through for her first professional victory.
As expected, as the week went on the testing Royal Adelaide layout once again proved to be a really tough test of golf for the players, and on a Sunday afternoon where the lead went back and forwards between several players it was eventually world number six, Ha Na Jang, who broke out of the pack in dramatic fashion with a back-nine of 33 to storm to victory. Jang’s spectacular eagle at the par 5 17th hole, where she holed a putt from 15 metres, followed by a birdie at the 72nd hole after her approach shot finished just 60cm metres from the cup, sealed the deal and the animated Korean’s 4th LPGA title.
It was also a great showing from our ALPG members, with ten players making the halfway cut and Queenslander Sarah-Jane Smith securing her best ever Australian Open finish, a tie for 3rd place with West Australian Minjee Lee.
The galleries were once again huge and congratulations must go to Golf Australia, the South Australian Government and the City of Adelaide whose foresight to bring the Australian Open to South Australia has proven to be a stroke of genius and really taken the tournament to another level.
In 2018 the tournament will be played at Kooyonga Golf Club, another fantastic championship golf course nestled in undulating sand dunes just 15 minutes from the central business district of Adelaide.
With the ALPG major tournaments done and dusted for 2017 there was still the 2017 ALPG ClubCar Series to be decided, and our members headed back to Queensland for the Brisbane Invitation at the beautiful McLeod Country Golf Club.
In its third year, the event needed a bit of luck with two near washouts in 2015 and 2016, and under brilliant sunshine Queenslander Ellen Davies-Graham broke through for her first professional victory shooting a superb 5-under-par 68 for a three-shot victory over the chasing pack at 2-under-par.
The ALPG then headed down the Pacific Highway into New South Wales for the final event of the 2016/17 tour, the BWAC Regional Employment Services Pro Am. The sleepy oceanside town of Yamba is one of the players’ favourite stops of the year and the testing layout is well worth the trip to play. Sydney’s Sarah Kemp walked away the winner after shooting a superb 4-under-par round of 69 to claim her eighth ALPG victory, and her first since her win at the Brisbane Invitational in 2015.
The 31-year-old obviously has a soft spot for the Yamba Golf and Country Club layout, having finished third and fifth in her previous two visits.
There were also another couple of battles being fought at Yamba, the 2017 ALPG ClubCar Series was also decided, with the impressive West Australian rookie Hannah Green taking out the first-place bonus cheque of $6500, Rebecca Artis was second taking home a cheque for $3500, Whitney Hillier finished in third place winning $2500, ALPG rookie Emily McLennan was fourth winning $1500 while Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh finished in 5th place winning $1000. A huge thanks must go to Kevin Gates and ClubCar for their continued support.
The other sub-plot unfolding was for what has been fondly nicknamed the “McYamba Cup” by the players. McLeod Country Golf Club and Yamba Golf Club had together come up with a bonus of $5000 for the leading player across both events. Brisbane Invitational winner Ellen Davies-Graham was delighted to take home the bonus money prior to starting a Physiotherapy degree on the sunshine coast the following week.
The final accolade for the season was the announcement of the 2016/17 ALPG Order of Merit winner, Queensland’s Sarah-Jane Smith, who continued her solid form from the LPGA Tour in 2016 into the ALPG Tour Season to take this honour for the first time in her career.
I would like to say a huge thank you once again to all our event sponsors and partners for making all of our pro-ams and tournaments possible, and thanks also to all of the amateur players who came along to play in our pro-ams, we really hope you enjoyed your experience of playing alongside our wonderful women professionals.
I would also like to wish all of our players heading overseas all the best for their 2017 campaigns, please keep an eye out for updates and stories on our website, www.alpg.com.au and our social media pages Facebook (ALPG Official), Twitter (@ALPGTour) and Instagram (alpgtour)
The ALPG’s focus now turns to our National Women’s Clinics, please click on the link below to find a clinic near you!