By Neville Idour ODT
Wakatipu junior Sumin Kang was a popular winner of the under-16 title at the South Island age-group championships when she sank the winning putt on the 18th hole at the Otago Golf Club yesterday.
Conditions were anything but easy with heavy rain early, leaving surface water on some greens at times along with the bitter cold.
Some of the overnight contenders simply did not cope but Kang (15), sitting third five shots off the lead at the start of the day, was playing with excellent control to be 1-under and two shots clear after 13 holes.
An inexplicable out of bounds on 14 led to a triple bogey and left her one behind Rianne Li (Akarana), but a nice tee shot resulted in a birdie on the par-3 15th enabling her to share the lead.
Kang and Li traded pars on 16 and 17, then came the drama on the par-4 18th.
Li’s approach shot rolled back off the green leaving a lengthy uphill chip but Kang failed to nail the opportunity and left her shot short in the bunker.
Li chipped about 2.5m past the hole. Kang played a great bunker shot to within 90cm. Li narrowly missed her putt while Kang sank hers to grab victory by a shot.
Kang finished with 221 for her three rounds.
Fourth-placed Yoonae Jeong, the outstanding 12-year-old Wakatipu junior, had the best round of the day for the girls with a par 72 .
Kang was delighted with her win.
“I was confident with my bunker shot on 18, but I was nervous about the last putt,’’ she said.
‘‘I am looking forward to playing more Charles Tour events later in the year.”
The under -19 girls title went to Lizzie Neale (Nelson).
She was coasting at 3-under after 13 holes and playing superbly and, despite dropping six shots in the last five holes, still won by four shots with a 75 and 223 total.
Maddie May (Clearwater) continued to battle with her putter to finish second on 227.
The under-19 boys battle was one of fluctuating fortunes as two-shot overnight leader Sam Marsters (Miramar) went from despair to triumph while St Clair’s Callum White, after a stellar round yesterday, experienced the opposite.
Marsters had a 42 front nine with two double bogeys and two bogeys to fall off the pace as White took a one-shot lead after nine holes.
Three bogeys and a killer triple bogey on 14 undid him despite a brilliant flop shot from above and off the green on 18. It landed 1.2m short and rolled in for a most unlikely birdie.
Marsters recovered on the back nine with four birdies to clinch a one-shot win on 216 from Steven Liu (Whitford Park) who was steady and always close to the lead with a 72 for 217.
White was third with 219.
“It was a long day but probably my best performance in one of these events,” he said.
The under-16 title was won by one of the favourites Jin oshua Bai (Akarana) who came from behind with a par 71 for 217 to snatch a one-shot win from overnight leader Zack Swanbrick (Napier).
Cooper Moore (12), the Russley three-handicapper, battled away to finish fourth on 224 ,one behind the other overnight leader Robby Turnbull (Remuera) .