Heath’s a wonder Down Under

Charlotte Heath swept away the challenge of Indonesia’s Mela Putri to claim a stunning victory in the Australian Women’s Amateur Championship.

The England women’s squad member was too strong for her 22-year-old rival and claimed a majestic 7&6 victory in the 36-hole final at the Royal Queensland Golf Club.

Yorkshire county player Heath got off to a fast start and was three up after five holes.

On completion of the first round, Heath’s lead was a commanding eight holes.

In the afternoon, the 18-year-old then tightened her grip by holing her approach to the third hole from 180 yards for an eagle and increased the advantage to 10 holes.

Putri fought back to win four of the next five and threaten a comeback, but Heath held her nerve to hole a par putt on the 12th and claim the title with six holes to spare.

After the win, Heath told Golf Australia: “It was a bit stressful and I was super nervous to start.

“I got off to a quick start and then in the second 18 she started playing really good and it was tense.

“I made two bogeys and she made two birdies and I dropped a few. But I kept my head and kept going.”

Heath – a  member at Huddersfield Golf Club – is no stranger to winning after triumphs in the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters and the Pleasington Putter.

However, the win Down Under is by far the most significant of her fledgling career.

It will also catapult her up the world rankings from her current position of 226.

As she hovered over the matchwinning putt, the teenager said: “I was just like ‘hole it’ – it was for a half anyway so if I missed it and it went six feet past it didn’t really matter.”

As well as the honour and the trophy, Heath will now be invited to two LPGA events – the Victoria Open and Women’s Australian Open.

Before that she has some pleading to do with teachers.

“I’ve never played in LPGA event – hopefully I can get time off school!” she added with a smile.

Heath qualified for the match play event by finishing in a tie for 17th in the stroke play.

Rounds of 71 and 74 saw her enter the knockout stages somewhat under the radar.

But while Cornwall’s Emily Toy and top seed – winner of the stroke play – unfortunately fell at the first hurdle to eventual finalist Putri, Heath built up momentum as the week went on.

A 4&2 win over Australia’s Fiona Xu earned Heath a place in the last 16 where another local hero – Charley Jacobs – was swept aside by the same score.

On Saturday, a third Aussie was put to the sword in the quarter-finals when Heath triumphed over the much-fancied Lian Higo by an emphatic 3&2 winning margin.

South Korea’s Minju Kim was the next opponent for Heath, but with confidence growing the English women’s international notched another impressive 3&2 win.

Then came the crowning glory with Heath thoroughly deserving of her plaudits.

In the men’s event, Ben Jones (pictured above), Charlie Strickland and Matty Lamb all made it safely through from the stroke play to the match play stages.

Northumberland’s Lamb had his run halted in the last 16 by Australia’s Louis Dobbelaar.

However, Northamptonshire’s Jones and Strickland from Sussex deserve huge credit for battling through to the semi-finals before finally losing out.

Jones’ match with Northern Ireland’s Tom McKibbin was nip and tuck all the way with the man from Holywood edging it by a single hole.

Australia’s Jediah Morgan – who went on to win the event – had too much in the tank for Strickland who lost 5&3.

The seven-strong England squad (five men and two women) now move on from Royal Queensland to play in the New South Wales’ Amateur being held jointly at St Michael’s Golf Club and the Coast Golf Club in Little Bay.

Their Australian adventure ends with the Avondale Amateur at Avondale Golf Club between 28-31 January.

Main Photograph credit: Golf Australia