Fiercely contested semi-final rounds in the 2021 WA Open have narrowed the field to four.  Mount Lawley’s Kirsten Rudgeley will challenge Joondalup’s Amie Phobubpa for the Women’s title tomorrow, closely followed by WA Golf Club’s Haydn Barron, who will contest Joondalup’s Aldrich Potgieter for the Men’s title in the 36 hole match play competition at Lakelands Country Club.

Rudgeley and Barron both hold impressive track records in this event, with Rudgeley seeking a three-peat in the women’s competition.  Barron was runner up last year and has an impressive history in matchplay.  However, this year youngsters Phobubpa and Potgieter have certainly been on form.  Given the record breaking results in this tournament to date, this final promises to be an exciting one.

This morning Lakelands Country Club gave way to a cool and fresh breeze for the semi-final match play rounds. Patience and controlling ball flights were the key to the morning rounds with tight finishes across the board.

Top qualifier, Connor Fewkes (Goldfields), struggled to control his driver and putter which saw him fall gradually behind.  Standing on the 15th tee at 4-down to Michael Hanrahan Smith (Cottesloe) it seemed like his day was close to over. However two putts from in excess of 20 feet on the short par 4, 15th and par 5, 16th had the deficit back to 2 down with 2 to play.

The par 3, 17th was playing into the wind and at its full length of 177 metres resulted in the match halved in pars giving a 2&1 victory to Hanrahan Smith. As a member of Cottesloe, Hanrahan Smith is well versed in managing his game in the wind and this was clearly evident throughout the morning round. He is fresh from a great finish last month at the Australian Amateur at Kooyonga Golf Club, South Australia, where he was outright 3rd only 4 shots behind the champion. 

In other matches Haydn Barron (WAGC) was just keeping his nose in front all morning against Adam Brady (The Vines). Barron was 2UP with two holes to play, however, Brady rallied to take the 17th hole to make it an interesting short par 5 on the 18th hole. Brady split the fairway and hit a solid second to 25 feet unlike Barron who went left off the tee into the trees.  Barron with his strength smashed a short iron over the trees and onto the front of the green, making a two putt for birdie to calmly claim the match. 

Aldrich Potgieter (Joondalup) matched up against Simon Liddell (Lake Karrinyup) who had defeated his fellow club member, Joseph Owen, in the previous round and was in consistent form. Potgieter was strong from the start, claiming the lead from the 2nd hole.  It took solid shot making and putting to maintain the advantage in this high quality match which ended with a hard fought 1UP victory to the 16 year old.   

In the final clash in the Men’s draw it was Jose De Sousa (Gosnells) pitting his skills against Alex Maxwell (Royal Fremantle). De Sousa took out local favourite Ryan Peake on the 19th in the round of 16 and is a known was his match play skills. His 2&1 victory over Maxwell was a testament to his course management and short game.

In the Women’s semi-finals Amie Phobubpa (Joondalup) jumped to an early lead over the  favoured Abbie Teasdale (Royal Fremantle) and at one stage was 4UP. Despite a late rally from Teasdale, Phobubpa held on for a 3&2 win to put her into the final.

Kirsten Rudgeley (Mount Lawley) was a clear favourite on paper over Sheridan Clancy (Lake Karrinyup) but young Clancy didn’t let this phase her gaining an early lead in the first five holes  Standing on the par 3, 17th tee Clancy was 2UP but Rudgeley dug deep and managed to square the match with a great up and down for birdie 4 at the 18th to send the match into overtime. 

Rudgeley lipped out at the 19th for birdie and Clancy made a clutch up and down at the 20th for par.  The short par 4, 3rd was to be their 21st hole. Rudgeley split the fairway leaving a short wedge to the green which she promptly hit to 10 feet just past pin high. Clancy just missed the fairway to the right and her approach found the greenside bunker short and left but she played a solid trap shot to about 6 feet. Rudgeley missed her birdie putt and the opportunity to close the match out but Clancy could not make the putt for par. Rudgeley goes through to the final round which gives her the chance of securing her third successive title. 

The men’s semi’s continued into the afternoon with Potgieter consistent in his form.  His solid driving in the challenging wind conditions was the key to defeating Gosnell’s Jose De Sousa with a sold 5&4 win to secure his seat in the final round.

The match between Barron and Hanrahan Smith was more tightly contested with both players having turns in the lead.  On 16, Barron was 1UP but drove left into the trees.  182 metres out, Barron managed to smash an iron shot to hit the pin halving the hole with Hanrahan Smith, both achieving birdies.   Hanrahan Smith fought back, taking play to the 19th.  An unfortunate three putt gave Barron the win, and his seat in tomorrow’s final.

Tee times are available at https://www.golfwa.org.au/cms/events/state-amateur-championships/ . Spectators are very welcome to enjoy the golf and hospitality at Lakelands Country Club tomorrow.

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