The life of Sydney teenager Steph Kyriacou changed forever in four days at Bonville this week.
The young amateur demolished a world-class field of fulltime professionals by eight shots to win the Australian Ladies Classic. The victory earned her a two-year exemption onto the Ladies European Tour, and a place in one of women’s golf majors, the Evian Championship, in France in July.
Steph Kyriarou plays out of a bunker on her way to victory in the Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville on Sunday
The 19-year-old has 14 days to decide whether to turn professional, with her place on the second biggest women’s tour in the world guaranteed. If she decides not to turn pro, she will keep the spot in the Evian Championship.
“I have never even been to Europe to play [golf], so it would be a big change,” Kyriacou said. “I didn’t even know about that [the tour exemption]. It would be awesome. It would be fun. I need to do a bit of research and look into it. I’m going to have to talk to mum and dad and my team and work it out.
“I had a goal to win a professional tournament as an amateur – I thought that would be cool. I just did that.”
Kyriacou followed in the footsteps of Australian No.1 Minjee Lee, who won the Victoria Open in 2014 as amateur, but that event didn’t have the tour status of Australian Ladies Classic.
Stephanie Kyriacou celebrates with champagne after her breakthrough victory.Credit:David Tease
She could play her first professional tournament as early as Thursday in the NSW Women’s Open, which is also a part of the LET with a prize pool of more than $400,000.
Kyriacou would not be out of place on the professional tour. She was the only player to shoot in the 60s for all four rounds, taking the lead on Friday when she shot 63 – the lowest round by a man or woman at Bonville. However, it will not be a course record as the round was played under lift, clean and place rules.
Under the pressure of leading and playing with world No.34, in-form Korean Ayean Cho, Kyriacou shot 65 in the final round to finish with a tournament record score of 22-under-par 266.
The teenager shut the rest of the field out of the tournament when she shot 29 on the front nine of the final round, birdieing 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
“I was pretty confident going into the final round. I have been playing good and everything had been working for me,” Kyriacou said. “I got off to a slow start again on the first but then it just clicked.
“I had a run of five birdies in a row I think and …. everything was going my way. I pulled the handbrake later in the round because I knew I had a bit of lead.”
Cho finished second but took the €36,000 ($59,000) cheque for being the leading profesional.
Kyriacou’s father Nick, who introduced her to golf at Moore Park as a three-year-old, caddied for her at Bonville and was proud of her achievement. She has played the Bonville tournament for the past couple of years but having finished school she has been able to focus fully on golf.
“She has been practising hard and playing well. It was great to be here with her,” he said. “It is good to be on the golf course with her and not getting beaten by her.”
The shot of Sunday went to Denamrk’s Linette Littau Durr, who won $30,000 Mitsubishi ASX when she aced the the downhill 17th.
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