– Jim Tucker
A devilish, skating 12-metre birdie putt from off the green gave a delighted Su Oh the first chance to flash a winner’s smile on her way to the Karrie Webb Cup.
She might still have had five holes to play, but she embraced the moment like the huge turning point it was to decide the Sunday drama at the Fortinet Australian WPGA Championship at Royal Queensland.
The 25-year-old Victorian looked to the heavens with both arms outstretched when her putt climbed a steep rise to the green and tracked into the hole.
The most important of her five birdies in her three-under-par 68 in the final round set up a four-stroke victory at her 10-under perch. It was her first tournament win in nearly seven years since her 2015 Australian Ladies Masters win on the Gold Coast.
Oh (66-72-68-68) was thrilled by the breakthrough and the significance of winning a trophy with Webb’s name on it for the first time.
“I can’t wait to celebrate with her. It’s such an honour to put my name on the Karrie Webb Cup,” Oh enthused.
“I know we both like gin. It’s a pretty big trophy so we’ll have a drink out of that (when Oh returns to the LPGA Tour).”
Oh said her expectations were vastly different compared to the 18-year-old she was when winning the Masters so unexpectedly.
“I didn’t really go into that one to win, just to play. When I decided to play at RQ, I really wanted to win and put my name on Karrie’s Cup.
“I will get a bit of confidence in myself out of this, knowing I can get it done. There’ll be a US win, hopefully, this year.”
Oh said she was unaware of the seesawing in the leaderboard early in the round when Grace Kim was running hot.
She did know the great value of her putt on the 13th: “I hit a good putt but you need a bit of luck for that to go in too.”
For most of the final day, it had been an intriguing duel between Oh and rookie pro Kim (69-68-71-70).
Kim had five birdies in six holes mid-round, including a superb wedge to inside a metre on the par-five ninth, to take a one-shot lead. The 21-year-old from Sydney’s Avondale Golf Club looked a possible winner when she stood on the 13th tee.
But her approach to the green flew just long but down a slick slope. Her touch around the green deserted her and she walked off with an ugly double-bogey.
Another bogey slip-up at the par five 15th effectively ended her challenge. What she will have learnt this week, under the blowtorch of contending, is priceless just four months into her pro career.
Oh was largely composed throughout. She rued a bogey from the rough on the sixth and dropped her only other shot on the 10th when missing the green with her approach.
Her cool on the 13th meant everything. She got a read on her putt when playing partner Andrew Dodt played a similar shot and fist-bumped with him when she nailed her stellar putt.
She finished in style in front of the roaring gallery on the 18th with her final three-metre birdie putt.
LPGA regular Sarah Jane Smith (71-68-69-72) will be highly frustrated she never made a run in the final round. Two bogeys from the sand on her opening six holes ruined her challenge.
Fine final round 68s were compiled by Perth amateur Kirsten Rudgeley and Karis Davidson.
Oh was upbeat that the joint men’s and women’s event was a winner.
“We need more tournaments like this with men and women playing together for separate trophies,” Oh said.
“I saw quite a few girls out on course and getting more interested would be great.”
WPGA Tour of Australasia Chief Executive Karen Lunn said she was delighted with the success of the women’s and men’s events being twinned at Royal Queensland.
“I felt the event was really well received. The women and men playing together is the recipe that the market is telling us it wants,” Lunn said.
“It’s a positive at government and sponsor level and the girls and guys enjoy playing alongside each other.
“It was really great to showcase the best players on the Australian tours this past week.
“It’s significant for women’s golf to launch the WPGA Championship because we want it to sit beside the Women’s Australian Open. They will be the two premier tournaments on our schedule.”