US Junior Amateur champion Min Woo Lee won a high-quality semi-final against Ben Ferguson to book his place in the men’s Amateur Championships of Western Australia final at Gosnells Golf Club.
Lee (Royal Fremantle) needed to dig deep into his bag of tricks to stave off Ferguson (The Vines), who began to run hot on the back nine, before holing a 20-foot putt on the 17th to claim a 2&1 win and book a final meeting against Adam Hatch (Royal Perth).
Hatch secured his place in Sunday’s 36-hole decider when he won on the last against Queensland teenager Zach Maxwell.
The 33-year-old Royal Perth member never trailed in the match, but was also never more than two holes ahead, as a rock-solid performance with the putter on the back nine proved the difference.
The pairing were, however, level going up the last when Hatch showed his nerve to at least ensure his best finish at the tournament at his fourth attempt.
The women’s final will be played between WA Junior squad team-mates Kathryn Norris (Mandurah) and Kirsten Rudgeley (Wanneroo).
Norris overcame Medallist winner Maddison Hinson-Tolchard (Gosnells, 2&1) after she had fired a hat-trick of birdies from the fourth to the sixth to open up a lead she would never surrender.
First-round leader Rudgeley edged a closely-fought contest with Victoria’s Montana Strauss (Long Island) after she produced a stunning approach to the final green to settle the match 1up.
There was never more than a hole in the contest which was effectively decided by what turned out to be Rudgeley’s final shot of the round, which she left just a couple of feet away, before watching Strauss narrowly miss her long-range putt to send the match into a play-off.
Wet conditions greeted the players this morning and Lee had to first overcome 29th-seed Lachlan Barker in his quarter-final, 4&3, before booking a semi-final clash with top seed Ferguson, who coasted to a 5&3 win over Tony McFadyean in their last-eight clash.
Their match-up attracted a healthy gallery and they were duly entertained by a contest to underline the strength of amateur golf in this state during the same week that Cottesloe’s Curtis Luck was crowned the number one amateur player in the world.
Lee set the tone for the afternoon when he opened up with an eagle at the par-four first and, while Ferguson immediately tied the match back up, the US Junior Amateur champion held a two-up lead by the ninth.
Lee extended his lead with birdie at the tenth only to see Ferguson’s putter then run hot as he ate up the advantage in the next three holes to leave the contest all square after 13.
But Lee managed to stem Ferguson’s building momentum before carding back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16 to leave him on the brink of victory.
The Royal Fremantle member then showed how calm under pressure he can be as he rolled in his clutch putt on the 17th.
Hatch’s putting also proved critical in his win against Maxwell, who on Friday had knocked out second seed Jack Murdoch before holding off 2016 WA Senior Amateur champion Paul Chappell on the last in his morning quarter-final.
And while the teenager failed to match Hatch’s consistency around the green he managed to square the contest when the Perth local found trouble off the tee at 17 and carded a bogey.
Maxwell was again longest down the par-five 18th, however, he hit his third long over the back and when Hatch’s approach found the target it left his younger rival needing to hole a putt that agonisingly drifted wide.