Magenta Shores CC, March 29-31, 2024

Hall Secures Comeback Victory in Dubbo

Lydia Hall buried thoughts of retirement from professional golf with a runaway victory at the Women’s NSW Open regional qualifier in Dubbo today.

On a day when birdies were at premium and the pack wobbled in their chase of the overnight leader, Hall stood tall to win by six shots at six under par overall.

Popular Queenslander Rhianna Lewis made a hot start and matched Hall’s closing 71 to finish joint runner-up at even par alongside Japan’s Kotono Fukaya, but neither could make an impression on the Welsh veteran.

Thailand’s Saraporn Chamchoi battled in the final group but clung on to finish two over to claim one of two qualifying spots for the Women’s NSW Open at Magenta Shores later this month.

The second of those went to Nambucca’s Darcy Habgood, a feel-good story with her father Paul and uncle Matt both having grown up around this Dubbo layout before also going on to become professional golfers. Habgood’s grandfather Colin is also a former captain and president of the club.

And to cap a great day for the Dubbo Golf Club, Ella Murray was the low amateur and only a hair’s breadth from Open qualification at three over.

But the day belonged to Hall, who admitted that her illustrious 17-year career had been in the balance after a tumultuous 2023 season.

After three months in Australia with her partner and family in Canberra, Hall’s battery is recharged and she’s now eyeing 2024 with renewed optimism.

Hall began with a couple of nervous moments including a bogey on the par-4 second hole after having had a wedge in for her second shot.

That, though, proved her only blemish in 36 holes and from the seventh onwards, the 36-year-old had a birdie putt on every hole and was in cruise control as her rivals fell away.

“I’ve had better rounds, for sure, but that was really important today,” she said after her fifth professional victory.

“As of November I was really close to giving it away, but something just told me to hang around and keep going … and here we are.

“With a four-shot (overnight) lead, it was really mine to lose or for someone to have a really special day, so it was a great challenge against myself today and managing my expectations and how I would manage it mentally.

“I possibly could have hit the ball better and definitely didn’t make too many putts, but I’m really happy to have done that because it was a battle against myself as much as anything.

“I had a couple of awkward lies early and the chips (felt like they) were flying off the face (of my clubs).

“On the second I hit a decent drive but found myself on the right-hand side with a tree overhanging; I tried to hit a little cut in there, but double-crossed myself and pulled it and might have been a little lucky it didn’t bounce harder and go OB (out of bounds).

“But from there on, it was pretty solid and I’ll take a lot of positives from that around a tight course like this.

“All in all, I’m really happy and hopefully it’s just the start of a successful 2024.”

The regional qualifying series next moves to Narrabri for its sixth and final leg starting on Friday.

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