Welcome relief for Australian golfer in women’s professional pro-am Queensland’s Karen Pearce has a local physiotherapist to thank for her victory in the Anita Boon Pro-Am at North Shore Golf Club today.
Pearce, the overnight leader, shot a two-over par 74 today to win the lucrative $35,000 36-hole event by four shots.
The tournament, supported by major sponsors KFC and Coca-Cola, was co-sanctioned for the first time with the Australia Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) Tour and New Zealand Professional Women Golfers (NZPWG).
Pearce, who suffered a hip injury in yesterday’s opening round, turned up this morning expecting to withdraw from the tournament.
She was directed to local physio Brad Takai, who works out of the nearby Institute of Golf facility, and as a result Pearce was not only able to play, but hit the ball with more freedom than in the opening round.
“Honestly I thought there was no way I would be able to play today. But he was fantastic and it really freed me up,” Pearce said.
The former regular on the LPGA and a winner on the ALPG Tour mixes her time on the international circuit for golf and tennis, where she was part of the Australian over-35 years team this year.
“That’s probably where I got the injury playing a little too much tennis but I love both sports and in fact I am probably more passionate about tennis because I am still improving at it.”
Pearce headed across the Tasman for a warrant of fitness check on her golf game.
“I had not played a tournament for a while and needed to know what I have to work on with the big events coming up. So I guess this result is very encouraging.
“I enjoyed the week. It is an excellent golf course, it was very well run and New Zealand and Auckland is a beautiful place.”
Starting on the third hole, Pearce mixed five bogeys with a birdie and a superb eagle on the 18th which proved the turning point.
“There was no way I could have made it in two yesterday but because I had the hip freed up, I hit two full shots in and made a good putt.”
The 24-year-old South African-born Kiwi, Jenna Hunter finished runner-up after firing the day’s best round of even par 72. She finished on six-over 150.
Hunter, who completed her professional traineeship at North Shore Golf Club, made five birdies and five dropped shots in her round.
It was a boost for Hunter both financially and in confidence as she heads to Morocco later this month to the qualifying school for the Ladies European Tour.
“I played really well today and made a lot of birdies,” Hunter said. “I just need to concentrate on not making the small mistakes like I did today.
“I am very pleased with today in my first big women’s professional tournament and hopefully now I can do well and be playing on the LET next year.”
Three Australians shared third place on seven-over 151 comprising last year’s winner Katelyn Must, rookie professional Ashley Ona and Vicky Thomas, ahead of compatriots Adriana Brent, Tamara John and Jody Fleming one shot back.
Young New Zealand professionals Stacey Tate (North Harbour) and Jess Guenzerodt (Christchurch) rounded out the top 10.
Meanwhile best of the amateurs today was New Zealand representative Mun Chin Keh, playing in the Future Pro division, who fired the joint best round with an even-par 72.
She was among the players to receive their prizes from the world number five ranked golfer, Lydia Ko, who could not play this week as she was completing school exams.
The event was established in 2009 as the first all women’s pro-am in this country in memory of former New Zealand representative Anita Boon who passed away from ovarian cancer. The tournament, promoted by the New Zealand Professional Women’s Golf, includes a range of female professionals and former Tour players, club professionals and teachers as well as amateurs.
The tournament also raised funds for NZ Gynaecological Cancer Foundation, which was Boon’s chosen charity.