Photo - credit GOLF AUSTRALIA
Huddersfield’s Charlotte Heath became the first Brit in 24 years and only the fifth in the 126-year history to win the Australian Women’s Amateur – and she did it in spectacular style.
Heath was unstoppable against Indonesia’s Mela Putri, 22, on her way to a 7&6 victory in the 36-hole final at Royal Queensland Golf Club.
Yorkshire county player Heath got off to a fast start and was three up after five holes and remained dominant when the contest was on the line, winning or halving the first 20 holes. On completion of the first round, Heath’s lead was a commanding eight up.
In the afternoon, the 18-year-old then tightened her grip by holing her 5-iron approach to the third hole from 180 yards for an eagle two and increased the advantage to 10 holes.
“It just ran into the hole,” said a surprised Heath.
Putri was eventually able to stem the bleeding with a spirited fightback, the Indonesian winning four of the next five holes after her opponent's flash of brilliance, including a chip-in of her own for eagle on the par-5 seventh.
But another birdie on 10 for Heath and a half on the 11th meant the writing was on the wall for Putri, the match coming to its inevitable conclusion on the 31st hole.
Heath rammed home a sublime 12-footer from off the green at the short par-4 12th return to snatch a half and write her name into the Australian Amateur record books.
After picking up the trophy England squad member Heath said: “It was a bit stressful and I was super nervous to start with. I got off to quite a quick start so that helped and then the second 18 she started playing really good, so it was a really intense match.
“I made two bogies and then she made two birdies, so I dropped quite a few," Heath added, “But then I just kind of kept my head and kept going.”
The 7&6 victory is Heath's first in a national championship and just her third anywhere in the world, following two previous wins back home in the Sir Henry Cotton Junior Masters and the Pleasington Putter.
However, the win Down Under is by far the most significant of her fledgling career and catapulted her up the world rankings from her current position of 226.
As she hovered over the match winning putt, the teenager said: “I was just like ‘hole it’ – it was for a half anyway so if I missed it and it went six feet past it didn’t really matter.”
As well as the honour and the trophy she was invited to compete in two LPGA events.
Heath qualified for the match play event by finishing in a tie for 17th in the stroke play. Rounds of 71 and 74 saw her enter the knockout stages somewhat under the radar.
But while Cornwall’s Emily Toy and top seed – winner of the stroke play – unfortunately fell at the first hurdle to eventual finalist Putri, Heath built up momentum as the week went on.
A 4&2 win over Australia’s Fiona Xu earned Heath a place in the last 16 where another local hero – Charley Jacobs – was swept aside by the same score.
On Saturday, a third Aussie was put to the sword in the quarterfinals when Heath triumphed over the much-fancied Lian Higo by an emphatic 3&2 winning margin.
South Korea’s Minju Kim was the next opponent for Heath, but with confidence growing the English women’s international notched another impressive 3&2 win.
Then came the crowning glory with Heath thoroughly deserving of her plaudits over a course where many of the holes were redesigned by Yorkshire born course architect Dr Alister MacKenzie in 1926
After her Mum negotiated time off from Brighouse High School, Heath will now play in this week’s (Feb 6-9) Vic Open at 13th Beach Golf Links in Barwon Heads Women’s Australian Open at Royal Adelaide Feb 13-16.
With aspirations to turn pro after college, starts at two of the country’s largest professional women’s events, both sanctioned by the LPGA tour, will be a dream come true.
“I’ve never played in any (LPGA) events before, so hopefully I can get it off school," Heath said immediately after her win. “My mum is working on it…”