Perth amateur Kirsten Rudgeley has the lead after the first round of The Athena at Sandy Links.
The 20-year-old Rudgeley score the most points from the 10 challenge events on day one of the WPGA Tour event in Melbourne to pick up the $5000 prize.
She will take top seeding into tomorrow’s series of three-hole matches, having beaten a field that included some of Australia’s best young professionals.
Perth’s Rudgeley, one of the world’s best amateurs, scored 73 points in a series of challenges that included a pitch, a bunker shot, a ‘trouble’ shot, a flop shot, a long putt, and a long drive. Sydney’s Grace Kim was closest on 70 points.
“It’s pretty cool,” Rudgeley said. “I played pretty steady through most of the challenges and made the most of my Mum looking at me there.
“You’ve just got to take it like you’re playing a round of golf. Because at the end of the day you’re playing a shot that you’re playing every week on the golf course. Just compose yourself and went with it.”
Rudgeley said the prizemoney, some of which she can accept under the new R&A rulings on prizemoney for amateurs, would go towards travel.
She is heading to Augusta National soon to play on invitation in the Augusta Women’s Invitational, having almost completed a stellar amateur career that includes an English Amateur, a Scottish Women’s Amateur Open and multiple state titles in Australia.
The top eight players in today’s challenges go through to the matchplay section – Rudgeley, Kim, Kelsey Bennett, Sarah Wilson, Karis Davidson, Steph Bunque, Hanee Song and Cassie Porter.
This is the second year of The Athena, an innovative concept that was first played at Coolangatta Tweed Heads Golf Club in 2021.
Tomorrow’s matches start at 12.40pm.