Walsh and Mehaffey come up short at Australian Women’s Classic

Kevin Kent

Lauren Walsh (Credit: LET)

Kevin Kent

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After just an hour and four minutes of play on Friday, the rains came and the hooter sounded at 8.19am and after a six-hour delay tournament organisers pulled the plug. The downpours on Friday would lead to the truncation of this weekend’s event, and the 2024 Australian Women’s Classic would be decided over 36 holes.

Any hopes of Irish success were scuppered at the first hurdle, and with just one round to make the cut, both Castlewarden’s Lauren Walsh and Tandragee’s Olivia Mehaffey found themselves on the outside looking in.

Mehaffey’s year began with a T23 finish in Kenya, but she’s struggled since and the stop-start nature of the early-season LET schedule hasn’t helped, so knowing she had just 18 holes to find her form in Bonville was always going to be a big ask. An opening bogey was followed by a double on the next and a further bogey on the par-3 third would see the Co. Down woman on four-over after three and with a mountain to climb. And sadly, things wouldn’t improve too much, and she’d limp off with a score of +9 and will have two weeks to reassess before returning to action in South Africa.

It was a far less eventful round for Walsh, though she’ll be bitterly disappointed to come up just a single stroke shy of the cut line after her round of 73. Walsh gave herself opportunities to grab one back from the course and make the final round on Sunday, but sadly it wasn’t to be and she misses her first cut since her professional debut at last year’s Dana Open on the LPGA Tour.

Meanwhile, at the top of the leaderboard, a three-way tie on -6 sees the tournament lead held by the Dane, Nicole Estrup with Pei-Ying Tsai and Australian favourite Jess Whitting after three fine rounds with Estrup the only one of the three to register a bogey for the disrupted round. Hot on their heels just a shot back sits England’s Cara Gainer and Czech Klara Spilkova on five-under. Last weekend’s winner of the NSW Open, Mariajo Uribe lurks with intent a shot further back on -3 as she seeks to go back-to-back after a wait of 13 years for victory on tour.

Speaking after a disrupted opening 18 holes, Danish co-leader Estrup gave her thoughts on the weather delay and her opening salvo around Bonville: “Yesterday was a weird day, we knew the weather was going to be bad,” she said. “I feel like I’m in a good place and my husband [Kasper] said to me this morning remember you can’t do anything about the weather. We were going out there today not knowing how many holes we were going to play. I was just trying to take one shot at a time and get as many birdies in as possible because we’re only going to play 36 holes, so you have to try as many as you can. You have to play a little bit more aggressive, but it’s more about playing smart golf. I did that last week and especially in the final round. Last week I played super defensive and ended with a T6.”

The second and final round of the Women’s Australian Classic kicks off at 6.45am (local) on Sunday and with 23 three-balls to negotiate their way around, more than one eye will be kept to the sky.


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