It would have taken a lot of eyes to follow the drama of day three of the women’s Australian Amateur Championship.
But in the end, it has essentially come down to a four-horse race.
And it’s fitting that on a tough day for scoring at Kooyonga, the only woman to record a sub-par score today carries the lead into tomorrow’s final round.
Kirsten Rudgeley, a member at Perth’s Mount Lawley Golf Club who has risen sharply through the amateur ranks with two stellar seasons around the country, carded a typically gritty 71 to reach one under in total.
While that might not sound like a typical third-day charge, it was good enough to move her past all others with overnight leader Hallie Meaburn (78), day one leader Grace Kim (74) and the ever-present Hyejun Park (76) going backwards at various rates through the day.
Royal Hobart’s Meaburn was stellar through seven holes with pars the order of the day.
But almost without warning, she made bogey on four straight holes, then compounded her issues with a triple-bogey after an errant tee shot left her short-sided on the tough par-3 15th and finished at three over.
Her playing partner Kim, a member at Avondale, had assumed the lead with a birdie on the ninth and looked to be comfy enough at three under on the 14th tee.
But a bogey on the 14th was also compounded by a rare double-bogey for the Youth Olympic champion on the gettable par-5 16th and then a three-putt on the final green to drop her to one over.
Park could not find her normal consistency and relied on a few brilliant 58-degree wedges to keep her in the mix at three over, alongside Meaburn.
But they’re all chasing the relentless Rudgeley, whose mind power is rapidly becoming as strong as her physical prowess.
She has a capacity to make many birdies, but she’s now increased her ability to counter the inevitable bogeys mentally.
“Now I can, yes. Tell me this two years ago and I would have lost my head,” Rudgeley said.
“It’s more the ability that I’m actually able to make more birdies than I used to, (so I can overcome any dramas).” Unsurprisingly, Rudgeley cashed in with birdies on all bar one of the par-5s today, highlighting her ability to take what’s on offer.
A ticket to next year’s Women’s Australian Open is exactly that tomorrow, so it will be fascinating to see which of the talented quartet prevails.
Leaderboard located here.
Pic courtesy of David Brand, Golf Australia.