Magenta Shores CC, March 29-31, 2024

Cho Clinches Victory at Duntryleague RQ

Cecilia Cho continued her renaissance tour of regional New South Wales today, but not before a giant scare.

Cho, 29, took two playoff holes to finally best Emma Ash after a dramatic final round of the Women’s NSW regional qualifier at Duntryleague in Orange.

Neither of the women had their A-game in the final match on course and were blissfully unaware of a pack charging at them in groups ahead.

In fact, had Thai Tunrada Piddon made her par putt on the last hole, she would also have joined the playoff despite having started the final round six shots adrift of Cho.

As it was, Piddon (69 for three under) shared third place with Kiwi Wenyung Keh who had the day’s best score of 67 on a day when, remarkably, all the top 13 placegetters shot par or better – except the two women in the playoff.

All seemed lost for Sydney-based South Australian Ash when she took bogeys on the tough 12th and 17th holes.

But each time it appeared Cho was clear in the closing stages; she too stumbled and kept the door ajar for the challengers.

In fact, despite Cho’s spectacular lag putt on the brutal final green that saved her a bogey after trouble off the tee, Ash had a putt of her own to win in regulation.

But her birdie attempt turned meekly left across the slope and both women mopped up to force overtime.

Both women had medium-range eagle putts on the first sudden-death playoff hole – the par-5 ninth – but both slid by to force a second extra hole.

The second time around, Ash again appeared to have the upper hand when Cho’s second went long and left of the green.

But she played a delicate pitch from the rough to inside 4m and when Ash’s bump shot from off the front of the green ran too far past for her to make birdie, the Korean pounced.

Cho, who admitted yesterday that she had spent much of the latter part of the past five winless seasons on the Korean LPGA Tour in tears, has now won twice in five days after last week’s Wagga Wagga pro-am triumph.

“I’m lucky – I’m not sure I could have played another playoff hole,” Cho said with a wry smile after another emotional celebration.

“I didn’t have my best game today, but I found a way to get it done and I’m proud of that.”

Cho, the world No.1 amateur when a junior living in New Zealand, laughed when it was suggested to her that she should move to Australia permanently.

“No, but I think you’ll see me every summer,” she beamed.

The win formally qualified Cho for the upcoming Women’s New South Wales Open at Magenta Shores and the following Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville.

It means she will miss the opening events of the upcoming KLPGA Tour season, but she doesn’t mind a bit.

“No, I’m very excited … it’s really going to extend my stay in Australia, but that’s OK because I’m in the NSW Open and I’m really happy about that.”

Ash reflected on equal parts pride and sadness about the result, holding back her own tears playing in memory of her great friend and mentor Peter Ward.

Ward, a stalwart at Ash’s home club of Thaxted Park south of Adelaide, died last week and is firmly still in his charge’s mind.

“He’d be very happy that I put myself in that position, but I would have liked to get it done for him,” Ash said.

“But I thought I was gone a couple of times, so I’m very proud to have pushed Cecilia all the way and even get a chance at the end.

“I’ll be better for the experience, for sure.”

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