Magenta Shores CC, March 29-31, 2024

HAYES: Amateur wave rolls in at Magenta Shores

Steph Kyriacou would be mortified if I uttered the word “veteran” in her presence.

But time in the world of golf, as all elite-level sports, slows for not one soul. Ever.

So it should be no surprise that it’s just ticked past four years since the sassy young Sydneysider shocked the LET establishment when she romped to an eight-shot win as an amateur in the then Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville.

Kyriacou was then 19. Now at 23, she’s not only an established LPGA Tour player and a fixture in the world’s top 100, she’s edging towards that dreaded “V” word to a cohort of hopefuls just itching to follow in her footsteps.

This week at Magenta Shores, that next wave is starting to build towards something of a king tide. One look at the Round One Women’s New South Wales Open leaderboard is all the proof required.

Queenslanders Justice Bosio and Sarah Hammett both appear legitimate stars in the making.

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Annika Rathbone carded a handy even par 72 in the opening round of the 2024 Women’s NSW Open Golf Championship

Close up behind them are the New South Wales trio Rachel Lee, Annika Rathbone and Ella Scaysbrook – like Kyriacou before them, proud Blues with rapidly expanding resumes.

Lee won the regional qualifier in Mollymook to reach her state Open with Scaysbrook following her lead recently at Bathurst – both wins among international fields of professionals.

Rathbone, who admittedly qualified through her position on the NSW state team, is also no stranger to this level of competition, having looked a winner at this tournament last year until she copped a particularly unlucky break on the 53rd (second last) hole.

Bosio and Hammett shared sixth position in the Australian Women’s Classic in 2022, with Hammett pushing eventual champ Meghan MacLaren all the way until a couple of closing bogeys just days after starting her Year 10 studies.

All five are accomplished amateurs., but make no mistake, their exposure at this level has been absolutely critical in their development.

It’s no slight on the sisterhood still emerging underneath them, but the old adage that you have to beat the best to be the best is most certainly appropriate in golf.

The ability to rub shoulders with global fields is important; the confidence that contending strongly among them simply invaluable.

And while it’s true that the Australian and Vic opens offer similar opportunities, it is absolutely true that in the past handful of years, by far and away the majority of chances to expedite this process have originated in New South Wales.

It should therefore be no surprise that this next wave of amateur talent has a distinctly sky-blue tinge; or in the case of the two Queensland amateurs shining early here on the Central Coast, a healthy dose of professional events provided for them by their southern neighbours at Golf NSW.

Either way, the chase to be the next Steph Kyriacou is now on in earnest.

And even if I’ve offended her, I’m certain the reluctant “veteran” would be the first to say this is a great thing for Aussie women’s golf.

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