LPGA Tour star Grace Kim continued to compete to win Australia’s first-ever WPGA Championship in Brisbane.
- First WPGA in Brisbane heats up as young Grace Kim took the lead from Su Oh on Friday
- Jed Morgan broke an eight under 63 record on his own court to lead the men’s competition
- This is the first Australian event where the women’s and men’s tournaments are played simultaneously with the winners to receive equal prizes.
The 21-year-old’s score at Royal Queensland Golf Club (GC) in Brisbane pushed her to five cents for the tournament and a shot from night leader Su Oh.
Playing in the afternoon slot, Oh started her round with two early birdies before dropping a six-under shot on six holes.
The race is even tighter with Sarah-Jane Smith just one stroke away from Oh, while youngster Karis Davidson is two strokes down as the field of 24 contests for the first title.
Kim, who just picked up a win at Geoff Ogilvy’s Sandbelt Invitational last month, will enter the weekend feeling confident she can bring her back despite missing numerous birdie putts for a second straight day.
“I’ve let a few pass so I’ll be on the green very soon,” she said after frustratingly closing her lap with another.
“I didn’t really give it a chance. That’s definitely what caused some cowardly leaves, but in the end, too, it was good.”
The new event is played as part of the Australian PGA Championship, with Kim coincidentally being placed in Ogilvy’s squad for the first two rounds.
“It was just a round I couldn’t have asked for,” said Kim, who is hoping for full-time status on the LPGA Tour this year.
“His ideas for giving us more opportunities to play is so good and… his short game is unreal.
“Being able to stay in the game and not show if he’s playing badly is a big learning curve.”
Ogilvy, who will likely miss the cup after finishing at three, said Kim was the “full package” and a legacy product left behind by Karrie Webb, whose new WPGA event trophy is named after.
“She has no weakness, she showed no nerves – the complete package,” he said.
“I was a Karrie fan in the closet… she’s a legend she made Aussie girls feel like ‘wow we can be the best in the world here’.”
Generous crowds followed their group, Kim forcing the many young girls to wait for her autograph after her tour.
The initiative follows the success of the Vic Open and Sandbelt Invitational as mixed events.
“It just shows how much it elevates the tournament with guys and girls (playing together),” Ogilvy said.
“I love playing with them, they probably like it a lot too and we’re sick of seeing the same old smelly guys every week.
“Look at the Australian Open tennis; the events are just better that way and it’s definitely the future, a formula that would work around the world.”
“The Next Greg Norman”
Meanwhile, Jed Morgan broke an eight-under-63 record on his Queensland Royal Track to lead the field in the Australian PGA Championship.
The new pro shot a score of under 63 – a course record for the new layout – to finish at 14 minus on Friday.
The 22-year-old led by a staggering six shots in the middle of the day as overnight race leader Louis Dobbelaar suffered a tied round to stay seven under.
With the absence of US-based stars in the field, the stage is set for a new face to emerge with US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy insolently suggesting after his turn that Morgan could be the ” next Greg Norman “.
A Sport Australia Hall of Fame scholarship recipient, Morgan has bonded with his mentors Ricky Ponting and former Major League Baseball pitcher Graeme Lloyd.
“The pair of them just opened up their point of view and handled this stuff,” said Morgan, who praised the growing crowd as he birdied his eighth to complete a memorable lap.
“I don’t take too many words or phrases from people, just how they act and they’re both aggressive people and especially when they’re in competition that’s how you have to be.”
The tournament, returning to RQ for the first time since 2001, was not played in 2020 and then postponed to the start of this year due to COVID-19.
The delay kept all of the US-based stars nationwide from attending, leaving a wide range of emerging Australian talent to compete for the top prize of $ 180,000.
Ogilvy finished at three and will likely miss the cup, reserving his praise for the new course record holder.
“I don’t know how many people chose it, but everyone probably should have had it,” he said.
“He’s got the world of golf at his feet, if all goes well, and he’s playing well and he’s taking his opportunities.
“My parents have always dined at the restaurant when they saw Greg Norman win the West Lakes Classic in 1976.
“Nobody knew who he was and he came and he won, and the rest is history.
“It’s okay here. Jed could be the next Greg Norman.”