By Neal Maidment
Defending WA Amateur champions Adam Hatch and Celine Chen were both ousted from this year’s event on a day of high drama at Royal Fremantle.
The story of the day was the red-hot form of 13-year-old Lakelands Country Club player Kortni Houston. Pitted against 2021 women’s champion Amie Phobubpa in the first match play round, Houston raced into a 5UP lead, only to be pegged back by her experienced opponent. Houston, however, held her nerve to close out a 2UP victory.
Better was to follow for Houston, who was matched against in-form defending champion Celine Chen in the afternoon’s second round. In what was undoubtedly the match of the day, Houston held a three-hole lead before again being reeled in by her steely opponent.
Chen nervelessly won the 18th to take the match into extra holes and looked odds-on to progress as she stood over a five-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole. The putt lipped out, however, and Chen was unable to sink the return putt to hand the onus back to her opponent. Houston proceeded to hole out to clinch the win and wrap up what she later described as her “best day in golf”.
Houston will now take on Mount Lawley’s Erina Tan in Saturday’s 18-hole semi-final after Tan recorded wins over Mai Julius (Royal Perth) and clubmate Valerie Khuu. In the other semi-final, Sophie Williams (Mount Lawley) will play home-club favourite Abbie Teasdale.
The two reached the semis in differing fashions, with Williams having to work hard to close out a 1UP win over Amanda Gan in the second match play round after holding a four-hole lead early in the match. Teasdale, meanwhile, underlined her credentials as a potential champion after comfortable wins over Ruby Cotton and Isabella Leniartek (both Mount Lawley).
Men’s event wide open
Royal Fremantle club member Adam Hatch won the WA Amateur in 2022 and comfortably won his first match of the day against Mount Lawley’s Brendon Nazar. However, he ran out of luck against in-form Victorian Charlie Robbins in Round 2.
Robbins – who endeared himself to millions of viewers by winning Australian Ninja Warrior in 2021 – had never played Royal Fremantle before this week but must now be considered a genuine contender for the title after defeating Hatch 5&4.
He will now face WAGC member Riley Gott in the quarter-finals tomorrow after Gott recorded a sensational win over the highly rated Joe Buttress. Despite finding himself two down early, Gott showed tremendous resilience and shot-making skills to claim a 3&2 victory.
Elsewhere in the men’s draw, dual medallists Tom Addy (Joondalup CC) and Jordan Doull (Mount Lawley) continued their serene progress to reach the quarters. Addy’s day included a hard-fought 3&1 win over the much-fancied Joe Owen of Lake Karrinyup in a terrific match. Joondalup’s Josh Greer also looks in dangerous form after two comfortable wins.
At differing ends of the experience scale, 14-year-old Ollie Marsh (Wanneroo GC) won two tight matches against Spencer Harrison (Royal Perth) and Ken Gao (Mount Lawley), while Sea View’s Nicholas Piani rolled back the years to reach the quarter-finals – 22 years after he won the WA Amateur title in 2001.
You can view the full results from today’s matches here. With another bright and breezy day forecast for Royal Fremantle on Saturday, another exciting day’s golf lies in store, so do get over to the course to watch it unfold if you can.
Women’s semi-final draw
7.54am: Abbie Teasdale (Royal Fremantle) vs Sophie Williams (Mount Lawley)
8.00am: Kortni Houston (Lakelands CC) vs Erina Tan (Mount Lawley)
Men’s quarter-final draw
7.30am: Tom Addy (Joondalup CC) vs Josh Greer (Joondalup CC)
7.36am: Charlie Robbins (VIC) vs Riley Gott (WAGC)
7.42am: Jordan Doull (Mount Lawley) vs Nicholas Piani (Sea View)
7.48am: Harry Peterson (NSW) vs Ollie Marsh (Wanneroo)