Zach Murray from Commonwealth and Metropolitan’s Su-Hyun Oh have been crowned 2013 Victorian Amateur Champions with victory at Kingston Heath Golf Club. Murray, at 16 years old becomes the second-youngest champion in men’s history whilst Oh has become the first back-to-back women’s winner since Natalie Parkinson in 1997/98.
The Women’s final was a repeat of 2012 with Oh, the world’s number 2 ranked amateur facing off against Western Australian and world’s number 3 ranked amateur Minjee Lee. Both players set the course on fire early in a titanic struggle to gain the upper hand over the 36-hole final. After the morning round, Lee held a one hole advantage as the duo each fired an eight-under 66.
Following lunch, Oh and Lee would again exchange birdies over the front nine to be level with the closing nine to play. Oh then made her break with an eagle at the par five 10th and consecutive birdies at the 11th and 12th to skip out to a three-hole lead. After the pair halved the long par-five 14th with yet more birdies and the iconic par-three 15th with pars, Oh sealed the 3&2 win on the 16th hole in a fantastic match between the two rivals.
David Greenhill, Chief Operating Officer at Golf Victoria described the performance as second to none. Over the 34 holes played, Oh was a staggering 17-under par.
“It was women’s golf of an exceptional standard that would rival the best anywhere. I personally have never seen women’s amateur golf played like that before. Both players were on top of their games showing why they are two of the three best women’s amateurs in the world. From a golf lover’s perspective, we’re fortunate that both are competing in February at Thirteenth Beach during the Oates Vic Open,” said Greenhill.
In the Men’s final, the morning started quietly for Murray who trialled by four holes at the lunch break with Victorian State player Todd Sinnott playing steady par golf over the opening 18.
Showing composure exceeding his age, 16-year-old Murray was able to claw his way back into the contest over the final round beginning immediately with a birdie at the 1st. While Metropolitan’s Sinnott temporarily weathered his opponent’s comeback by taking the 2nd with a par, Murray then won three consecutive holes to reduce the deficit to just one after just six holes of the afternoon.
Sinnott birdied the 9th to take a two-hole lead into the final nine. The pair both birdied the 10th before Murray played a superb iron to the par-four 11th and holed the two metre birdie putt to again reduce the margin to one hole.
A further birdie at the 13th to Murray levelled proceedings before the teenager gained his first lead of the day with a birdie at the par five 14th. Sinnott fought back to level the match with a birdie on the difficult 16th before Murray played the men’s shot of day at the 17th with a mid-iron approach which finished one metre behind the hole which he converted for birdie to go one up.
The men’s final then looked like it would go into extra holes after Murray pulled his tee shot at the 18th which ricocheted off a tree branch into a deep fairway bunker on the left hand side. Meanwhile, Sinnott positioned himself perfectly in the fairway with a driving iron off the tee. Murray then played a good recovery from the fairway bunker that drifted slightly right of the green. Sinnott’s approach was right on target but just failed to hold the green and ran agonisingly off the back edge. Murray then effectively sealed the championship with a delicate pitch over a slight mound to inside a metre of the hole. After Sinnott’s birdie attempt from off the green just missed and ran half a metre by, Murray held his nerve to hole the par putt and take the title.
“At 16 years of age, we’re pretty sure that Zach becomes the second-youngest Victorian men’s amateur champion after the great left hander Harry Williams. He certainly looks a special talent, tall in stature and like a lot of modern young golfers hits it with great distance off the tee,” Greenhill said.
As well as adding their names to two of the oldest golf trophies in Australia, Oh and Murray will receive amateur exemptions to the 2014 Oates Vic Open.
The Men’s event has now produced 66 separate winners including players such as Ivo Whitton, Harry Williams, five-time British Open Champion Peter Thomson; Australia’s first British Amateur Champion Doug Bachli and noted professionals Mike Clayton, Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Geoff Ogilvy, Aaron Baddeley and Marcus Fraser.
The women’s event boast winners such as Mona MacLeod, Susie & Shirley Tolhurst, Burtta Cheney, Margaret Masters, Sandra McCaw, Lindy Goggin, Jane Lock, Louise Briers, Jane Crafter and more recently Stacey Keating.