Magenta Shores CC, March 29-31, 2024

Scaysbrook Keeps Hot Field at Bay

Experience comes in many forms, as joint leader Ella Scaysbrook will attest after a day of low scoring at the Bathurst leg of the Women’s New South Wales Open qualifying series.

To the uninitiated, amateur Scaysbrook, who only recently turned 18, may seem an unlikely leader against a quality field of Australian and international pros.

But her rapidly growing resume already includes a victory in the 2021 Peter O’Malley Junior Masters among several trips to Bathurst, a layout largely unknown to many of her rivals this week.

And her love of the course shone today in a sparkling, bogey-free four-under-par 68 to sit alongside Thailand’s Tunrada Piddon and New Zealand’s Munchin Keh atop the crowded leaderboard.

“I love this course, it’s a great course to play … it’s tight and I feel like I play good on tight courses,” Scaysbrook said.

“But yeah, it suits my eye, so I’m really happy to go well again here.”

Scaysbrook, a member at Newcastle Golf Club in her native Hunter Valley but who plays off a handicap of +5 at her adopted Australian GC in Sydney, made several great up-and-downs for pars to keep her card blemish-free.

But it was a spectacular lob shot to inside a foot on her final hole, the ninth, that set up her closing birdie to move her to the top of the heap.

“I managed to keep the momentum going a few times today when I was in a bit of trouble, so I’m really happy to have done that.”

Keh, a comparative veteran at 31, figuratively caught fire for an hour on the back nine, rolling in six birdies in eight holes from the 11th.

The softly spoken Kiwi said she enjoyed her round greatly, joking that she could barely get a word in edgewise alongside great mates and renowned chatterboxes Rhianna Lewis and Amelia Mehmet-Grohn.

“I was just having fun with playing partners and when I wasn’t thinking too much, that’s when it (the birdie blitz) all happened,” said Keh, the runner up at the 2019 Women’s NSW Open in Queanbeyan.

“When it doesn’t feel like work, I was just relaxed, and it was great fun with Rhianna and Amelia. Every now and then, I even got a comment in!”

Piddon, tied third at Duntryleague in Orange earlier this week, continued her good form, making her own bogey-free round.

And this despite finding Bathurst a totally different beast to tame.

“It’s a totally different golf course so I still have to adjust pretty quick,” she said.

“The greens, the fairways, the layout is different as well, so I feel like it’s about adjustment.”

No fewer than 20 women were at par or better, highlighting the condition of the Bathurst layout.

FULL LEADERBOARD

And among those within touching distance of the title tomorrow is the red-hot Cecilia Cho, who opened with a bogey on the 10th hole today, but from that point on surged through the field to finish three under in her quest for a third title in a week.

She shares that second rung on the leaderboard with Thailand’s Saraporn Chamchoi and Queensland Jordie O’Brien, who had several putts lip out or singe the cup today in an impressive ball-striking round that could have been anything with some luck around the greens.

Lydia Hall, of Wales, and Queanbeyan’s Amy Walsh are at two under alongside another amateur, Dubbo’s Ella Murray, who was entertaining today in pouring in five birdies.

The second and final round starts at 7.25 am tomorrow, with the leaders off at 10.05 am.

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