Maddison Hinson-Tolchard knew something was brewing as her game blossomed late in the recent American collegiate golf season.
Today, it finally bubbled over for the effervescent West Australian.
Hinson-Tolchard, the 2018 Australian Junior champion, savoured her first victory in the United States, winning the prestigious Southern Amateur in Florida.
A day after knocking off medallist Jenny Kim in a tense semi-final, Hinson-Tolchard took a far easier route to the time-honoured trophy – won by such LPGA stars as Lexi Thompson and Stacey Lewis – with a 5&4 victory over another American, Taylor Roberts.
“It feels amazing,” Hinson-Tolchard beamed.
“My game has been so good for the past couple of months and I felt like something was coming and I just had to be patient.
“And then this happened – it just shows hard work pays off.”
The 19-year-old, a freshman at Oklahoma State University – the one-time home of PGA Tour stars Rickie Fowler, Viktor Hovland and Matt Wolff – played a key role in the Cowgirls’ recent run to second place in the NCAA national final in Arizona.
Hinson-Tolchard, a regular on WA state and national teams in the past four years, finished T15 individually for the week and her team fell narrowly to Ole Miss in the match play final, the best finish ever for the OSU women’s program.
So it was with good form that she took her game to the Falls Club of the Palm Beaches in Lake Worth, near Miami, this week.
After qualifying fourth, Hinson-Tolchard blazed through her early matches 6&5, 4&3 and 5&4 to set up her match Florida’s Kim.
After Kim nailed a long birdie putt to start their match and the Aussie lost a ball up a tree on the second hole, she feared her run might fizzle quickly.
But the pair duked it out until, still at 2-dn, Hinson-Tolchard hit a great tee shot in close at the par-3 16th hole, forcing a three-putt from her opponent.
When Kim’s approach to the 17th hole plugged in a bunker, the match was suddenly square and it took until the 20th, “the tree hole”, for the Perth prodigy to prevail.
“We both missed that second green, but I was on the back edge. She chipped up to six feet and I ran my birdie try about 10 feet past, then drilled it back in and she missed. I was gobsmacked,” Hinson-Tolchard said.
“Then in the final, Taylor made a bomb on the first and hit her approach to two feet on the second and I thought, `Here we go again!’.
“But I hit one in close, too. And then from that point, I played really well.”
Hinson-Tolchard was five under without a bogey when the pair shook hands on the 14th green.
She said it was a great confidence-booster before her US Women’s Amateur qualifying tournament in Kansas on 28 June.
“I’ve put in so much work and there’s been massive improvements in my short game,” she said.
“I’m more accurate from 80m in and it has really helped with par-5 scoring.”
Hinson-Tolchard has twice played the US Girls’ Junior Championship, including having a plaque placed in her honour alongside new US Women’s Open champ Yuka Saso after the pair shared a course record in Wisconsin in 2019.
She missed qualifying to the US Women’s Amateur by a stroke in 2018, but is confident her game and confidence has matured greatly since.
“I know I’ve got it in me, now,” she said.