Article and Photo by David Tease (Golf NSW)
New South Wales has retained its girls' Interstate Series crown in style with a thrilling 4-1 win over Victoria in the final match at Port Kembla Golf Club, near Wollongong.
New South Wales held the upper hand in the contest for most of the morning, with the trio Grace Kim, Hannah Park and Doey Choi all taking handy 3-up leads after nine holes.
The tide turned on the back nine, however, and the Burtta Cheney Cup was anyone's with just a few holes to go.
Alexandra Hilliard grabbed a vital point for the Victorians with a 2&1 win over Amy Chu to put the first score on the board.
Soon after, however, NSW struck with the pair of Hannah Park and Doey Choi sealing wins in their matches against Gabi Ruffels and Kono Matsumoto, 5&4 and 4&3, respectively.
With the pressure on, Victoria’s Alizza Hetherington began to mount a comeback against Kim, who had held a 4-up lead through nine holes.
Hetherington managed to whittle Kim's lead down to just two and it looked like the match was there for the taking. Kim held on however, and after a couple of pars on the 16th and 17th holes, last week's girls #AusJnr champion prevailed.
The hero for the NSW team was Interstate Series debutant Stephanie Kyriacou. The teenager, who looked gone for all money when she was 3-down after 13 holes, staged a stirring comeback to win the next five holes to take her match 2-up and ensure that NSW had the point required for the championship.
Kyriacou, 16, was thrilled with her win, coming from so far behind to topple Linley Ooi.
“I was three down through 13 and just trying to stay positive,” she said.
“But she mis-hit an iron on the 14th and I knew I was a chance.
"I was getting more upbeat and into the mood of the game as I kept winning holes.
“I hit a really good tee shot on 17. I was confident, I just wanted to close it out,” she beamed.
Kyriacou had no idea that hers was the pivotal match coming down the final hole.
"I wanted to make a par on 18, and once she hit it into the hazard, I just had to hit into the middle of the green to win it,” Kyriacou said.
“It was a fantastic effort by the girls to go back-to-back,” NSW team manager Liz White said.
“They were very focused. All week they knew this match was the key to victory and they got it done.”
White said the bond the girls share played a big part in today’s result.
“They are a great bunch of girls; they get on like a house on fire, they are a cohesive unit. They want to win for each other not just themselves," she said.
White was also full of praise for the late-round comeback of Kyriacou.
“Not wanting to single any one player out, but Stephanie’s comeback today was unbelievable. She is a real tiger.
“She likes this course and once she settled down she was unstoppable,” White said.
The girls have enjoyed White’s home cooking all week and when quizzed about after-dinner treats, she conceded that last night the demand for ice cream from her team was pretty loud.
“They all wanted ice-cream last night, I said no, and at 8.50pm I said to them: No more phones and into bed now!
“They were pumped when they got up this morning, and they were ready to go,”
As for an ice cream celebration for the team tonight, White smiled and said: “They can have whatever they want.”