Leniartek defends, Cranny breaks through at Cobra Puma Junior

2nd Jul 2024

Cobra Puma Junior Championship

Isabella Leniartek successfully defended her title, while Benjamin Cranny made a major breakthrough at the Cobra Puma Junior Championships at Royal Fremantle.

Monday’s cold and blustery conditions eased somewhat for Tuesday’s final round, allowing for lower scores and some spirited runs at the title.

However, none were able to overhaul Leniartek and Cranny, both of whom had held at least a share of the overnight lead in the respective girls’ and boys’ competition.

Fifteen-year-old Leniartek (Mount Lawley) enjoyed the biggest win of her career at this event in 2023 and she further underscored her growing stature with two days of controlled golf around a very testing layout.

On paper the strong favourite, Leniartek nevertheless had work to do to separate herself from the field after sharing the Round 1 lead with home-club talent Zoe Grace Ong, after both carded three-over-par 76s.

Ong continued to make a fight of it over the front nine holes of Round 2 and indeed moved one shot clear of her rival after a fine birdie at the par-three 8th.

A dropped shot at the 9th allowed Leniartek to draw level and her greater experience of front-running was in evidence as she reeled off four consecutive pars to stamp her authority on proceedings.

Cobra Puma Isabella Leniartek

Old head on young shoulders: Isabella Leniartek played steady, ‘safe’ golf to defend her title


Ong, meanwhile, saw her title hopes fade with seven bogeys and a double on her back nine. Her closing 82 was still good enough for outright second, but was eight adrift of Leniartek, who closed with a composed 74.

Buoyed by a sensational hole-in-one at the par-three 12th, Halia Edwards (Gosnells GC) finished in a share of 3rd with Ong’s sister, Heather Grace (Royal Fremantle), but the day belonged to Leniartek, who joins the likes of Minjee Lee, Kristie Smith and Maddison Hinson-Tolchard in going back-to-back in the event.

“My game was very solid today, I just tried to play simple, ‘safe’ golf and I’m very happy with my short game and how I was hitting my irons,” she told GolfWA.

“It’s great to go back-to-back and win at a course like this. Winning this event last year gave me so much confidence and my game has improved a lot since then,” she added. “I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved in the past 12 months and hopefully I can continue to improve.”

Cranny keeps cool to score significant win

In the absence of several of WA’s leading talents – including defending champion Ollie Marsh and perennial contenders Spencer Harrison, Josiah Edwards and Declan Pereira – the boys’ event was primed for a breakthrough winner, which Ben Cranny duly delivered.

The Hartfield GC junior doesn’t play much competitive state golf due to his focus on cricket – but that could change given the nature of his performance at Royal Fremantle.

Cranny was coolness personified throughout the two-day event, displaying great consistency with the putter on Royal Fremantle’s treacherous greens and limiting his mistakes when the pressure was on.

His opening 71 (one under) was the only sub-par round of the championship and a birdie to open his account on day two was the perfect way to settle any nerves.

Cobra Puma Benjamin Cranny

Benjamin Cranny carded the only sub-par round of the championship on Day 1


After nine holes of the second round, Cranny had extended his lead over nearest challenger Thomas Pyke (Royal Fremantle) from one to six strokes and adopted a match play mindset on the back nine to hold off both Pyke and the fast-finishing Krishav Sheth (Lake Karrinyup).

Although three over for his back nine, Cranny’s one-over 73 was the joint best of the day, granting him a two-stroke victory ahead of Pyke (74), with Sheth (73) two shots further back.

Cranny admitted to being surprised by the high standards of golf he produced after coming into the event with low expectations.

“I’ve been playing really bad golf these past two weeks,” he told GolfWA. “I lost pennants at the weekend and was hitting it horrendously. I was really just hoping to break 80 here, but somehow managed to play well.”

His success at Royal Fremantle may even cause Cranny to re-evaluate his priorities and start giving golf more of his time and effort. “I think I might try a bit harder with my golf now,” he laughed.

Junior 9 inaugural winners confirmed

As well as the main stroke play championship, the inaugural Junior 9 Stableford competition was also staged at Royal Fremantle, with 17 competitors aged between 6-15.

The aim of Junior 9 is to provide pathways into higher-level competitive golf for inexperienced youngsters, with many of the players stepping up from the Crunch&Sip Junior Tour.

In a high-quality contest across the board, Allayna Engel (Mandurah Country Club) won the girls’ event ahead of Ava Hunt (The Vines) and Greta Abrahams (WAGC), while Will O’Hare (Wanneroo GC) took first place in the boys’ competition, with Ryker Sampson (Gosnells GC) second and Charlie Biddle (Melville Glades GC) third.

Junior 9 Series Royal Fremantle

Junior 9 winners Ava, Ryker, Allayna, Greta, Charlie and Will


View the final leaderboards from the Cobra Puma Championships here.

Keep up with the latest WA golf news news via the GolfWA news section and our Facebook and Insta accounts. You can also subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter here.