Jess Whitting amongst seven Aussies with a shot at history

6th Aug 2019

No Australian has ever won the pinnacle US Women’s Amateur championship, but we’ve got seven women itching to rewrite history.

It took dual champ Kelli Kuehne to quell South Australian Anne-Marie Knight in the 1995 final and no less than legendary Juli Inkster to stop Tasmanian hero Lindy Goggin in an epic 1981 finale.

But in an already stellar year for Australian women’s golf, there’s a strong band of women hoping to finally go all the way when the 119th edition of the championship tees off later today.

After several brilliant performances in qualifying, a Queenslander, a West Australian, two Victorians and three women from New South Wales have all earnt the right to compete at the Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Mississippi. All will make their debut in the championship.

The Mornington Peninsula’s Sue Wooster won her way into the field as the runner-up in last year’s US Senior Women’s Amateur, while Gold Coaster Becky Kay reached the final 156 courtesy of her sixth place in the individual standings of the 2018 World Team Championship in Ireland.

The other five reached courtesy of sectional qualifying across the United States in early July, with Sydney’s Steph Kyriacou the first to advance after a fine 68 at Westhaven Golf Club in Tennessee.

Next into the field was her NSW state teammate and great mate Doey Choi who went through at the Saticoy Club in California.

The third New South Welshwoman and recently selected Astor Trophy Australian representative Amelia Grohn, of Coffs Harbour and now Iowa State University, played superbly at Woodhill Country Club in Minnesota to earn her berth.

In-form Melburnian Gabi Ruffels was the next in, finishing safely among the top bracket at Redlands Country Club near her base at the University of Southern California.

And the Aussie rush was rounded out by Perth’s Jess Whitting, who advanced from Ormond Beach in Florida, across the state’s “panhandle” from her base at the University of Southern Florida in Tampa.

As in all major USGA championships, they’ll each confront two rounds of stroke play qualifying before the top 64 players are seeded and left to battle out a knockout match play draw from Wednesday with a 36-hole final at week’s end.

And the beast they’ll play on, the host of the 1999 US Women’s Open, is tough. The par-72 Old Waverly layout, the first course in Mississippi to host the famous event in its 119-year history, will play to a course rating of 78 and slope rating of 150.