Mollymook’s Kelsey Bennett is looking to make an immediate impact after securing medalist honours at the WPGA Tour of Australasia Qualifying School at Coolangatta-Tweed Heads Golf Club on Tuesday.
A one-stroke leader heading into day two, Bennett peeled off three consecutive birdies to close out her round of three-under 69 on Coolangatta’s West Course, securing a three-stroke win from Hannah Park with Korean Nayeon Eum a shot further back in third.
As medalist, Bennett is now guaranteed starts in every WPGA Tour event throughout 2023, starting this weekend with the Melbourne International at Latrobe Golf Club.
Following an outstanding amateur career that included a quarter-final finish at last year’s Women’s Amateur Championship and third place finish at the 2022 Australian Amateur, Bennett turned professional prior to Final Stage of Ladies European Tour Qualifying School in December.
She narrowly missed out on her card there but now has a full schedule on home soil to begin her professional career.
“This is just something that I was looking forward to and super happy that I can start in Australia,” said Bennett.
“I’m super keen. Off to Latrobe tomorrow and it will all start. I’ve entered into a few of the events and now I’m in the Vic Open which is even better.
“That was the one thing that I was really focusing on this week, making sure that I got into that top eight so I could guarantee myself starts.”
Coached by NSW PGA High Performance Coach of the Year John Serhan, Bennett featured prominently in the WPGA Tour events that she played as an amateur 12 months ago.
She finished inside the top 16 at TPS Victoria, the Vic Open, TPS Hunter Valley, Women’s NSW Open and Australian Women’s Classic in Bonville, providing valuable experience before making the pro plunge.
“I didn’t miss any of the cuts in the Australian events last year so that gave me a really big confidence booster,” said the 22-year-old.
“I was super stoked to do that and really looking forward to this year.”
Sydney’s Hannah Park matched Bennett’s best-of-the-day 69 to finish second at two-under par and also earn full playing rights for 2023, Korea’s Nayeon Eum (72) the only other player under par across the two rounds.
The top eight finishers all secured a full playing card with Japanese amateur Yuna Takagi (73), Queensland’s Sarah Yamaki Branch (72), Victorian Jessica Pickwick (76) and amateurs Rhianna Lewis (74) and Kathryn Norris (76) snaring the final five spots.
Click here for final scores and prize money.