Gun West Australian amateur Kirsten Rudgeley has revealed the road she intends to take prior to turning professional… starting with this week’s Australian Women’s Classic at the Bonville Golf Resort in Coffs Harbour.
Headlined by LPGA Tour star Sarah Kemp and Whitney Hillier and co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour, the Australian Women’s Classic was first staged at Bonville in 2018 and returns to the WPGA Tour Australasia schedule following a cancellation in 2021 due to COVID travel restrictions.
Established LET stars such as Becky Brewerton, Alice Hewson, Maja Stark and Meghan MacLaren are in the field and will be faced with a local contingent consisting predominantly of up-and-comers looking to make their mark.
Cassie Porter, Stephanie Bunque, Kristalle Blum and amateur Kelsey Bennett are eyeing off a direct path to the Ladies European Tour and emulating the trajectory of 2020 champion Stephanie Kyriacou.
Fresh from her tie for eighth at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, victory this week might also force a change to Rudgeley’s plans for 2022.
Currently the No.39-ranked women’s amateur in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Rudgeley has already proven her credentials in professional company.
She was seventh at the inaugural Australian WPGA Championship in January, defeated Grace Kim to claim The Athena at Sandy Links and was seventh at the Vic Open but is adamant that she has more to achieve in the amateur game before taking the leap into the pro ranks.
“I want to go to LPGA Q School at the end of the year and just see how I go,” Rudgeley told the Australian Golf Show.
“Take my time and see what happens. I’m not in any rush. I’d rather do it when I’m ready.”
Following the Australian Women’s Classic Rudgeley will tee it up in the Women’s NSW Open at Coolangatta-Tweed Heads Golf Club.
From there she will represent the West Australian team at the Australian Interstate Series at Sorrento Golf Club from May 10, be part of the Australian team at the Queen Sirikit Cup in Singapore from May 23 and then head to the US in the lead-up to the US Women’s Amateur at Chambers Bay in August.
But first is another opportunity to advance her standing at a course where she made the cut two years ago and which should feel somewhat familiar to the one where she played her last tournament.
Regarded widely as the closest thing Australia has to Augusta National, Bonville will elicit some of the same feelings that the 21-year-old experienced just two weeks ago and which was its own lure in maintaining her amateur status.
“I wanted to play in the event because us females, we don’t get the chance to play there,” Rudgeley said of her Augusta experience.
“To be able to play it and in a competition, I was like, Yep, I’m going to hold off for a little bit.
“It was a good experience again and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
By making the cut and playing the final round at Augusta National itself – the first Aussie to do so – Rudgeley played to the same pins that would face Cameron Smith in the final group a week later.
But where Smith came undone in his quest for the green jacket, Rudgeley made par at the famous 12th hole on her way to an even par 72.
“We had exactly the same pins as the men players on the Sunday so that was pretty cool,” Rudgeley added.
“Me and Russell, my caddie, said about 15 feet left of the flag and I slightly pushed it and hit it to about 10 foot.”