MERCURIAL Briton Laura Davies has claimed her second Australian Open title after a sensational day of see-sawing fortunes at Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne.
In the clubhouse on 285, seven-under, after her final round 68, Davies watched as nearest rival Tania Elosegui of Spain imploded with a double-bogey six on the 72nd hole which she needed only to par to win.
The Spaniard, who had played with real composure throughout her round to accumulate six birdies and just the one dropped shot to that point, put her eight-iron approach into the front left bunker.
She splashed out to six metres, pushed her putt for the win a metre past the hole then missed the return putt for bogey that would have forced a play-off.
Elosegui said later she was under the mistaken impression that Davies was a shot further in front, and hadn’t realised that her bogey putt was ‘live’.
Elosegui finished alone in second place on six-under, one shot clear of Davies’ compatriot Melissa Reid and South Korean pair Lee Chang-He, the third-round leader, and Choi He-Young of South Korea who missed an outside chance to force a play-off when she, like Elosegui, three-putted the last.
Titleholder Karrie Webb (74) finished in a tie for sixth with fellow Australian and the winner of last week’s Australian Ladies Masters, Katherine Hull.
Davies’ ambush effectively began on Saturday when she carded a 67, the round of the day, to haul herself from among the wannabees tied for 46th to a spot in the top 10.
That provided the launching pad for a sensational front nine on Sunday. She was out in 34 and picked up another shot at the 10th.
The critical holes, however, were the back-to-back par fives at 14 and 15 which she eagled and birdied to open up a two-shot lead.
The 475-metre 14th was classic Davies – a monster drive downwind, long iron to 15 metres, then a ‘bomb’ of a putt that was never going to miss.
At various stages on Sunday, six different players – Davies, Elosegui, Reid, Choi, Lee and American Beth Allen – either led outright or jointly.
Starting the day just two off the pace, Webb would have fancied herself to be right in the finish, but while those around her advanced the four-time champ was stuck in a rut.
KARRIE WEBB leads the Australian Women’s Open by three strokes after a sparkling seven under 66 at Melbourne’s Metropolitan GC.
Webb faced kinder conditions than Katherine Hull and others who teed off late but her near flawless round was an ominous warning to rivals.
The defending champion’s is aiming to claim her fifth Australian Open and later admitted she had stunned herself with her opening round but knew it was always within her.
“If you had told me I was going to shoot seven-under today I almost wouldn’t have believed you,” Webb said.
Tournament drawcard Katherine Hull, the runaway winner of last week’s Australian Ladies Masters at Royal Pines, carded two double-bogeys on the way to a three-over 76.
Like many of the afternoon players, Hull struggled to master a stiffening southerly breeze. Her playing partner Laura Davies dropped two shots over the last three holes to finish one-over.
Schoolgirl Su Hyun Oh, 12, made history as the youngest player to tee-up in the Australian Open.
Already the Victorian junior champion, the McKinnon Secondary school student had qualified to play for the national title earlier this week. She finished with a respectable opening six-over-par 79. Fellow 12-year-old Chi Youngmin finished one shot behind on 80.
MAKING every older golfer’s bones creak just that little bit more, two 12 year olds have qualified for the 2009 Women’s Australian Open Golf, which tees off at the Metropolitan GC, Melbourne, this Thursday.
But the two young schoolgirls will be hard pressed to make a dint on a quality field featuring a raging hot Katherine Hull.
The Queenlander was in the zone on the weekend, cruising to a five stroke victory at the ANZ Ladies Masters.
With a restricted Masters preparation due to the Queensland weather, Karrie Webb will benefit greatly from that outing and will be all out chasing her fifth Open title.
At 26, Hull is positively ancient compared with two of the 11 players who made the grade at Final Qualifying this week.
Of the qualifiers, two were Australians with the rest represent countries across Asia including Vietnam, Japan and Korea.
First off there is the extraordinary story of Su-Hyun Oh (Pictured. Photo Courtesy Women’s Golf Victoria), who at just 12 years of age shot a round of 71 to qualify for the Open field.
Rather than heading to school on Thursday morning, she’ll be heading to the tees to do battle with Hull, Webb and the likes of Laura Davies.
It won’t be the first time that the schoolgirl has stepped out on Metropolitan. Last year she won the Victorian Junior Championship in a 36 hole final round.
Not to be outdone, Victorian-based Korean Youngmin Chi, who is also 12, fired a round of 74 to also make it into the starting lineup at Metropolitan.
Two 12 Year Olds make qualifying history