By Dane Heverin
Justice Bosio thought things could not get any better after being invited to play in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and shooting a course record last week, but the good times have kept coming as she leads TPS Murray River at Cobram Barooga Golf Club’s Old Course.
The 18-year-old amateur made seven birdies on her way to a six-under opening round of 65 to hold a one-shot advantage in the mixed-gender event from Brett Coletta, Matthew Millar, Shae Wools-Cobb, Hayden Hopewell, Kirsten Rudgeley and Matias Sanchez.
The Queenslander charged into the top-10 in the first event of this season’s Webex Players Series at Rosebud Country Club last week with a course record 62 on Saturday and she carried that momentum across the Murray River.
“It was a really good round. Pretty solid. It felt pretty cruisy which was good. I had one bogey on the 11th hole I think it was but other than that I played really well,” she said.
Bosio came runner-up for the second straight year at the Australian Amateur last month and her other impressive results in recent times include coming 11th at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open in December.
The Caboolture member was a prolific junior, but she has taken significant strides forward since she made the quarterfinals of the US Junior Girls’ Championship last year.
Although, she cannot quite put her finger on where her improvement has come from.“I’ve been working pretty hard, but I don’t know. I just started playing well,” Bosio said with a laugh.
“I’ve been sinking putts and I was struggling with my putting for a while, so it’s been good to be sinking them now.”
A key element of Bosio’s recent success has been not looking too far ahead and this week is no exception.
She admitted to being inspired by Hannah Green’s historic victory in last year’s edition of this event – where she became the first woman anywhere in the world to win a professional mixed-gender 72-hole tournament – and Min A Yoon’s TPS Victoria triumph last Sunday, but she is not thinking about possibly becoming the third woman to win a Webex Players Series event.
“It’s good to know that a girl winning it definitely can be done, but we’ll see how the next three days go and if I’m still in contention by the final round,” she said.
The 21-year-old made eight birdies in gusty winds to be the equal best of the afternoon field alongside Sanchez, and remarkably as the winds grew stronger, she got better.
Five of her birdies came on the back nine, including a hat-trick of them at holes 13, 14 and 15 to surge towards the top of the leaderboard.
“There were a lot of shots where the wind changed literally before you hit. That messed with my mind a little bit, but I made the best of it,” Rudgeley said.
“I made a few birdies on the par-4s which was handy, and I made the most of the par-5s. I just played steady golf.”
The West Australian had the chance to join Bosio at six-under but her mid-range birdie putt at the last slid by the edge of the cup, while Sanchez made seven birdies in his round.
The 24-year-old Victorian already has one top-ten finish this season at the WA PGA Championship.
Millar on the other hand lit up the back nine with a 31 that included six birdies to storm into contention.
“Physically, I’m dealing with a few things – it’s no secret that I’ve had long issues with back troubles – so it took a bit of time to get into the groove and dropped a few shots with a really bad hole at the seventh (he made double bogey). Came out of nowhere really. No excuses. I just made a mess of it,” he said.
“Got things going on the back nine. Hit a couple of nice ones. Played off that and made a few putts.
“The wind direction is a little more favourable there and the flags allowed to us get a bit closer.”
A further shot back at four-under par is more than 15-year LPGA regular Sarah Jane Smith, while rounding out the top-ten is a seven-way tie for ninth at three-under.
That group consists of Daniel Gale, who made his PGA Tour debut last year, TPS Victoria champion Min A Yoon, LPGA player Emma Talley, seven-time professional winner Matthew Griffin, Drummond Golf Melbourne International champion Cassie Porter, Cobram Barooga local Steffi Vogel and four-time professional winner Adam Bland.