• Bennett leads by one at Melbourne International

Photo credit Candice High

By Tony Webeck

Rookie pro Kelsey Bennett has set herself up for a winning debut after taking a one stroke lead at the end of day one of the Drummond Golf Melbourne International.

Bennett posted a round of four-under 68 at Latrobe Golf Club on Saturday to edge one clear of defending champion Karis Davidson (69) with New Zealand’s Momoka Kobori and Queensland’s Cassie Porter in a share of third with rounds of two-under 70.

Medalist at WPGA Tour of Australasia Q School at Coolangatta-Tweed Heads Golf Club on Tuesday, Bennett had four birdies in the space of five holes on the front nine, coming home with eight pars and a birdie at the par-5 13th to edge one shot ahead.

With the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific and two stages of Ladies European Tour Qualifying School, it was a busy end to 2022 for the 22-year-old but she wants to make an immediate impact on the professional ranks.

“I did have a bit of time off over Christmas which was really, really nice but it’s benefited me more that I kept playing and I didn’t have months on end off,” Bennett explained.

“I feel like I’ve kept a bit of a rhythm going which is good.

“I just want to keep believing in myself and know that I am just as good as the rest of them out there.

“Not be afraid of winning. A goal would be to at least win an event over this summer season.

“Q School was a good start and I want to just keep having this positive attitude and keep going.”

After two early pars Bennett holed good putts from relatively close range for birdie at three, four and five.

A bogey at the par-3 sixth was countered by a birdie at seven as birdie opportunities slipped by over the remainder of the round.

“I hit them relatively close which was good and I felt good all day,” said Bennett who plays out of both Mollymook Golf Club on the South Coast and St Michael’s Golf Club in Sydey.

“I had plenty more opportunities for birdie but I also saved a couple of good putts for par as well so I was happy with that.”

Runner-up at the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship in 2018, New Zealand’s Wenyung Keh is three shots off the lead in a tie for fifth with Georgia Lindeback with Sarah Jane Smith, Stephanie Na, Breanna Gill, and Rhianna Lewis tied for seventh with India’s Gauri Karhade at even par.

The second and final round of the Drummond Golf Melbourne International tees off at 9.46am AEDT on Sunday with the lead group of Bennett, Davidson and Porter to start their rounds at 11.10am.

Click here for Round 1 scores.

Click here for Round 2 tee times.

Subscribe to WPGA Tour Newsletter