Young gun Claire Shin holds a two-shot lead after the opening round of the 2023 Women’s NSW Open Golf Regional Qualifying event at Mollymook.
On a day when the wind made club selection more than challenging, Shin was clinical around the vaunted hilltop layout. The young gun converted birdie chances on the 4th, 8th, 10th, and 14th, and except for an unlucky bogey on her second hole, it was a faultless performance from the 18-year-old.
Two back from Shin is New South Wales State Team representative Rachel Lee, WPGA Tour regular Elmay Viking of the Cook Islands, and former two-time NSW Women’s Open Champ Sarah Oh.
Vicky Uwland, Chiziru Ueda, Amy Chui and Ann Jang are another shot behind at even par, while Quenslander Rhianna Lewis rounds out the top 10 at plus one.
Local hope Kelsey Bennett has some work before her after signing for a three-over 75.
Despite an early bogey, Shin was thrilled to be at the top of the leaderboard after her opening round, especially in her first competitive hit-out on the imposing Mollymook layout.
“The greens are really quick, So I did a great job out there.
“After the bogey, I knew I just had to calm myself down. I didn’t think of anything else; I just had to keep moving forward.”
Shin said the course became progressively more demanding as the wind picked up and swirled through the giant turpentines.
“The wind kept changing every second, it made club selection difficult, especially on the par-threes,” she added.
If Shin was unexpectedly surprised with her score, former NSW Open Champion Sarah Oh was thoroughly excited with her opening round of one under par.
The two-time champion, who said her golf of late had been restricted to ‘just playing at Oatlands a couple of times a month’, was delighted to be in the mix.
“I sold one of my business so I have three months off,” she laughed.
“The greens are tricky, and there’s a lot of slopes out there. Shooting 73 yesterday, I was happy. Today, 71 was phenomenal.”
With the field set to tee off in tomorrow’s final round in fours, Oh said it wiould be a thrill knowing she will be paired with a couple of her former students in Shin and Lee.
“I used to coach a few of the girls, Rachel, Claire, Sophie (Yip), when they were younger.”
Also on Oh’s mind is what she should do if she were to grab one of the two spots on offer in the Women’s NSW Open at Magenta Shores next March.
“I don’t know. I’m opening a new business in January, and I will be busy, but it would be very exciting to play the NSW Open again.
“It’s also nerve-wracking, to be honest, not playing golf just to rock up after ten years and starting playing again is very hard,” she added.